Thursday’s Forum to Examine Hospital Conversions

hospitalState leaders are set to examine the impact that the proposed conversion of some nonprofit hospitals to for-profit ownership will have on the quality of patient care, community needs and the hospital employees.

The issue of hospital conversions has taken on new urgency as Waterbury and Bristol hospitals are involved in negotiations with an out-of-state for-profit buyer, Vanguard Health Systems.

The legislature’s Public Health Committee, chaired by Sen. Terry Gerratana and Rep. Susan Johnson, is convening a forum this Thursday, August 29 to explore the state’s role in such situations. The informational forum, The State’s Role in Hospital Conversions, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to Noon at the Legislative Office Building (Room 1-D) in Hartford.

Invited speakers include Attorney General George Jepsen and a representative of the state’s hospital regulatory agency, Office of Health Care Access. Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut (UHCF) is monitoring this process for its potential impact on patient access to quality, affordable care, as well as the larger community and hospital employees.

Conversions as well as consolidations are changing the face of hospitals in our state. For example, Eastern Connecticut Health Networkhas announced that it has signed a Letter of Intent to explore an affiliation with Vanguard and Yale New Haven health systems.
UHCF believes any proposed deals must reflect the needs of all parties involved. Most importantly, the voices of the patients and communities served by the hospitals must be engaged.

This is a tough challenge, but forums like the one being held this week can help our state’s leaders determine how best to use their power to guarantee that voice is heard.

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