Waterbury Hospital Must Remain Accountable to its Community

The public hearing for the proposed Waterbury Hospital / Prospect Medical Holdings deal is on May 3, 2016, at 1pm, at the Courtyard Marriot in Waterbury’s Grand Ballroom, 63 Grand Street in Waterbury.  Public is welcome to weigh in during the comment period.  In light of this upcoming hearing, we have a guest blog from a Waterbury community member.

By Steven Schrag 

BZHOSPFOLLO

Credit: Erin Covey/ Waterbury Republican American

There is a proposal to convert Waterbury Hospital from a non-profit to a for-profit model, and we in the community have concerns.

If Waterbury Hospital turns from non-profit to for-profit, it will not have to meet certain requirements that protect communities, and that can be problematic.

There are 5,700 hospitals in the United States: 2,900 non-profit, 870 for-profit and the rest are owned by state and local government (2009). Non-profit hospitals must legally meet the IRS community benefit standard with requirements that include:

  • Accept charity care to the extent of its financial ability and admit of all types of patients including those able to pay for care either themselves or through third party payers
  • Maintain a community board
  • 24-hour emergency room open to all regardless of ability to pay by limiting amounts charged for emergency or other medically necessary care to individuals eligible for assistance
  • Prohibitions against the payment of excess compensation and impermissible private benefit
  • Community benefits be reported at cost rather than charges and reported by employer identification number rather than by hospital or system
  • Conduct a community health needs assessment and adopt an implementation strategy at least once every three years beginning March 2012

Waterbury values regarding community benefits

We believe a hospital’s community benefit improves the health status of the affected community.  This means that the hospital provides health care services that promotes preventative care, improves the health status of the affected community, and generally focuses on the overall health and wellness of residents.  We want to ensure that the hospital serves the needs of working families and at-risk populations.

What we want

Community United has been working for a community benefits agreement since 2012, when the first for-profit corporation wanted to buy Waterbury Hospital. The most recent draft version of a community benefits agreement includes what the Prospect Medical Holdings and Waterbury Hospital have said is already part of their legal documents. We have added to the proposal that they agree to talk with the community to find ways to even do better on community issues raised in the last 4 years.

The draft agreement states that the hospital will:

  • No change in service lines or locations such as behavioral/mental health, cardiology, cancer services, diagnostic and imaging services, emergency department, family birthing and neonatal care, gastroenterology, infectious disease clinic, intensive/critical care, outpatient medical therapies, primary care, pulmonary, rehabilitation, surgical and telemetry
  • Maintain current policies on charity care for a minimum of 5 years with the possibility of extending it based on future discussions with the community
  • While Waterbury Hospital is owned by a Prospect affiliate it will provide charity care under applicable law unless otherwise negotiated with the community
  • Accept Medicaid and Medicare for a minimum of 5 years with possibility of extending that based on future discussions with the community
  • Maintain staffing according to state law
  • Continue to have cultural and linguistic appropriate services available to patients
  • Hire employees under usual and customary hiring process and will work with the appropriate unions to ensure continuity and stability in the workforce
  • There will be a local board created with additional advisory committees to solicit community ideas and input
  • Seek input for capital projects from the local board and advisory committee to help identify community needs
  • Seek input for capital projects from the local board and advisory committee to help identify community needs

There shall be ongoing dialogue and discussion with Community United and others to identify language and appropriate methods of accountability regarding the following concerns:

  • Payment of property taxes for the full amount of the Hospital’s value
  • Conducting a Community Health Needs Assessment as often and with the same effort that is required of non-profit hospitals
  • Negotiation of a successor clause that will ensure that all sections of this  agreement will last in perpetuity
  • Complete facility based transparency regarding finances, staffing and services provided by using the Waterbury Health Department website
  • Maintain support for parent engagement programs
  • Full-time clergy to meet the needs of patients and share appropriate staffing data with the community

This agreement is by no means comprehensive or as complete as we would like it to be. However, we drafted it in order to make clear our willingness to compromise. The question is whether the hospital will compromise and sign an agreement with the community.

They have stated several times that they think it is not necessary to be accountable directly to the community. That raises questions in our minds about their intentions.

We look forward to a signature from Prospect Medical so that we can work together to make Waterbury Hospital a center of healthcare excellence for another 100 years.


Steven Schrag is a long-time resident of Waterbury and has been involved as a community activist on many issues, including volunteer work with a coalition of people concerned about the sale of the two local hospitals.

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4 Responses to Waterbury Hospital Must Remain Accountable to its Community

  1. Pingback: Hearing on Waterbury Hospital’s Proposed Sale to Prospect   | Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut

  2. Pingback: Malloy’s CON Task Force – What About Community and Consumers?  | Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut

  3. Pingback: Three CT Hospitals Get Greenlight To Go For-Profit  | Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut

  4. Pingback: Three CT Hospitals Get Greenlight To Go For-Profit  | Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut

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