By Rosana Garcia
Members of the Manchester and Rockville community got a small win when it came to their non-profit hospitals being purchased by a for-profit company.
On June 10, the Office of Health Care Access (OHCA) released their final decision approving the purchase of Eastern Connecticut Health Network, including Manchester and Rockville Hospitals, by out-of-state Prospect Medical Holdings. As the CT Mirror article reported, there was only one “substantive” change from the proposed OHCA decision released on May 27.
Originally, community members would be on the local boards of Manchester Memorial and Rockville General Hospitals, but could not vote. These local boards drive each hospital’s decision making in providing health care for the area.
In the final decision, the community members will now be able to vote, and will also be selected in consultation with the Manchester and Vernon mayors, to ensure that the community members will be unbiased.
In the Foundation’s public comment on the proposed final decision, one of the changes we asked for was that community representatives on the board be full members with voting rights.
OHCA also included some good community and consumer protections with their final decision, including requiring that the new owners conduct a community health needs study, and implement a plan to address those needs. This is something required of non-profit hospitals, but does not automatically apply for for-profits.
The conversion of Manchester and Rockville Hospitals, and the entire Eastern Connecticut Health Network, from non-profit to for-profit status in this deal is not ideal. But community members included on the local boards of the hospitals, with full voting rights, is a critical way for the new owners, Prospect Medical Holdings, to be held accountable to the communities they will be serving.