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certificate of need hearing

YNHHS offers testimony at certificate of need hearing on proposed acquisition of Prospect CT, Inc. hospitals and assets

The Connecticut Office of Health Strategy (OHS) held a public hearing April 26, regarding the certificate of need approval required for Yale New Haven Health System (YNHHS) to acquire the assets and operations associated with the Prospect CT hospital systems (Waterbury Hospital and ECHN, consisting of Manchester Memorial Hospital and Rockville General Hospital).

YNHHS CEO and President Christopher O’Connor offered testimony in support of the application, citing the integral role the hospitals play in providing care to their communities and YNHHS’ commitment to ensuring access to quality care close to home as well as enhanced access to specialty medical services through YNHHS’ partnership with Yale School of Medicine. O’Connor also outlined additional merits of YNHHS’ proposal, including that the transaction will ensure that patients in the region continue to have choices as to where they receive care.

“As part of our mission, it is important that we continue to invest in important projects like this one,” O’Connor told the commission. “We believe that, acting in partnership with the State, we can turn around these hospitals and enhance the quality of care for patients in these regions. Our confidence comes in large measure from our experience.  Over the last several years, we have had significant success turning around multiple struggling facilities and expanding the YNHHS care signature to each new location that we have acquired.”

In 2012, YNHHS acquired the Hospital of Saint Raphael, followed by Lawrence + Memorial and Westerly hospitals in 2016, and Milford Hospital in 2019. Following the acquisitions, the hospitals experienced improvements in inpatient daily census, quality, operational efficiencies and costs. 

“As a nonprofit safety-net provider, we are committed to ensuring continued access to care in these communities. With an innovative approach, we believe we are best positioned to do so,” he added.

YNHHS Chief Clinical Officer Thomas Balcezak, MD, and Bridgeport Hospital President Anne Diamond also gave testimony to OHS. Dr. Balcezak reiterated the benefits of affiliation in clinical care in terms of “providing the right care in the right place,” he said. “This allows both community hospitals and academic medical centers to operate in a more cost-effective manner, providing more patients with high-quality, and higher-acuity, care in their home communities.” 

“We have a track record [with successful affiliations with the Hospital of Saint Raphael and Lawrence + Memorial, Westerly and Milford hospitals], and the benefits of affiliation come down to our ability to drive consistency of quality care, demonstrated cost efficiency, and access to care,” Dr. Balcezak said.

Diamond attested to the success of the affiliation model developed by YNHHS. “I have witnessed firsthand and participated in the comprehensive and thoughtful way that Yale New Haven Health integrates new facilities into its system, including as new campuses of their existing hospitals,” she said. “I believe that the experience in Milford is a strong indication of the System’s capabilities and helps illustrate the value that Yale New Haven Health will bring to the Prospect hospitals.”

The Bridgeport Hospital president noted that the Milford Hospital integration stabilized the hospital’s financial state and its workforce, improved employee morale, provided immediate facility improvements, and enhanced clinical services.

OHS questioned the YNHHS delegation about the organization’s phased implementation of improvements targeting financial status, quality and safety measures, the electronic health record, costs, patient access and clinical services.

Local officials and members of the community also spoke in favor of the acquisition. State Sen, Saud Anwar, MD, a critical care pulmonologist affiliated with ECHN, urged the commission “to recognize the 300,000 people in the community east of the river who are dependent on the health and wellbeing of this health system [ECHN]. … We have to protect the community we serve. Yale New Haven Health is going to be a blessing for the community,” he said, noting YNHHS’ medical and clinical expertise and its mission to serve all patients regardless of ability to pay.

Before the hearing adjourned, O’Connor urged OHS to move forward with the application “so that YNHHS can get to work revitalizing these hospitals and serving their surrounding communities.”