SOUTHINGTON — Strong local opposition to proposed changes at Bradley Memorial Hospital prompted the parent company on Wednesday to halt the state approval process so it can include the community in the discussion of the hospital's future.
The decision by Hartford HealthCare came two days after dozens of irate and fearful residents flocked to a town council meeting and pleaded that Bradley remain a hometown hospital, and that the company not eliminate inpatient services at the hospital or move the emergency room to another site.
"Hartford HealthCare has listened to the community, and based on what we've heard, we feel it's important to pause the process and not submit a Certificate of Need in September as we had planned," company media relation director Rebecca Stewart said in an emailed statement.
"Instead, we want to take the time necessary to reach out and engage the Southington community about how, working together, we can best provide the most appropriate health care services and programs at the Bradley Memorial campus and within the town of Southington," she wrote.
The delay in seeking the certificate of need — the company must show its proposed changes are needed before the state approves the work — does not mean HHC is giving up on the plans. But it means the company heard what people said Monday night and will include townspeople in discussions before any changes are sought, Town Manager Garry Brumback said Wednesday after the announcement.
Bradley Memorial Hospital was founded in 1938 and benefited for decades from community efforts to buy new equipment and expand services. Brumback, town manager since January 2011, said he has learned the strong affection people have for Bradley, which merged in 2006 with New Britain General Hospital to become The Hospital of Central Connecticut. HHC manages it as part of the network of hospitals and health services it offers across Connecticut.
A delegation of town officials, including three council members, Brumback, regional health director and the town senior center director, met Tuesday with HHC officials to discuss the concerns raised Monday by citizens. Much of that meeting focused on the council support of the hope that Bradley remain intact, and also on the need to better inform residents about plans for the hospital, he said.
Rosemary Champagne, a cancer survivor and frequent Bradley patient who has gotten 3,000 signatures so far on petitions to keep Bradley unchanged, said Wednesday she was pleased to hear HHC decision to postpone its application with state regulators to change Bradley services.
"The voice of the people has been heard," she said. She said, though, that she will continue to circulate petitions seeking no further changes to Bradley.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun