By Rosana Garcia
Last Tuesday and Wednesday, the state held public hearings on the potential Manchester and Rockville Hospitals sales to out-of-state, for-profit Prospect Medical Holdings. The affected communities had an opportunity to speak out on the proposal—and there were many major concerns voiced by the public.
Prospect is seeking to acquire all of Eastern Connecticut Health Network (ECHN), which not only includes the hospitals, but a nursing home, medical group and other ECHN services and facilities.
Before any hospital can be acquired by a new owner, the sale must be reviewed by the Office of Health Care Access (OHCA) under the Certificate of Need program. In the case of a conversion of a hospital from non-profit to for-profit, the sale must also be approved by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). As part of the process for approving a transaction, a public hearing must be held. OHCA and the OAG’s office held joint hearings. On Tuesday, March 29, the public hearing was held in Manchester, and Wednesday, March 30, in the Rockville section of Vernon.
And the public had a lot to say.
There was a lot of concern and anger over the problems found by federal officials at two of Prospect Medical Holdings’ California hospitals. Citizens expressed fears that Prospect’s ownership of Manchester and Rockville Hospitals would lead to a drop in quality. Community members also spoke against Prospect’s for-profit status, suspicious of a company that seeks to find a profit in health care.
Our own Lynne Ide also testified, asking for strong conditions on the sale. OHCA and the OAG can approve a sale with conditions, so that the new owners can be held accountable to the communities being served.
The Foundation’s major concerns include:
- The fact that Prospect Medical Holdings is a for-profit, out-of-state company, whose ultimate goal is to make money, not necessarily serve patients and residents
- Evidence that shows increases in cost when hospitals merge with, or are acquired by, another company
- The lack of local accountability at Sharon Hospital, which is Connecticut’s only for-profit hospital, despite conditions put on that sale
- Recent challenges at Windham Hospital after acquisition by Hartford Health Care
You can read our full testimony here.
We will know soon if this sale is approved, and keep you posted on the results. As Prospect is also seeking to acquire Waterbury Hospital and the Greater Waterbury Health Network, we expect a public hearing soon on that deal, as well.
In the end, our testimony sums it up best: “Residents of these communities are not pawns in an elaborate game of chess. Decisions should not bypass patients and be made in faraway corporate offices, with profit as the only metric. If this deal goes through, it must have strict conditions that protect the hospitals for what they are— critical cornerstones of a community’s well-being, and responsive to those it serves.”
Our previous blog on the subject: Manchester and Rockville Hospital Sales Up for Review
Outrage over ECHN deal (Journal Inquirer, Kym Soper, March 31, 2016)
Officials describe financial burdens at Manchester, Rockville Hospitals (Courant Community, Jesse Leavenworth, March 29, 2016)
Prospect unclean, feds find (Journal Inquirer, Kym Soper, March 29, 2016)
ECHN suitor under scrutiny (Journal Inquirer, Don Michak, January 5, 2016)