For Release: May 26, 2022
Contact: Rosemary Picarelli | (860) 989-5641 | email@example.com
Willimantic - Hartford HealthCare Organization of Professional Employees coalition (HOPE) leaders are today reacting to Hartford HealthCare’s (HHC) contention of regulatory penalties for unlawfully terminating maternity services at Windham Community Memorial Hospital (WCMH).
HHC executives on Wednesday challenged the Office of Health Strategy (OHS) by contesting the “Imposition of a Civil Penalty for Failure to Comply with C.G.S. § 19a-638 Pertaining to the Termination of Obstetrical Services.” The fines stem from OHS' regulatory action against HHC, the network that owns and operates WCMH, in February of this year.
“The wealth of Hartford Healthcare gives them the ability to drag this on. Meanwhile, it’s the pregnant women and babies of this region who ultimately pay the price,” said Andrea Riley, RN, president of Windham Federation of Professional Nurses, AFT Local 5041, “It is my hope that the Office of Health Strategy will see through this powerplay and stand up for those who cannot do it for themselves,” added Riley, a nurse in WCMH’s emergency department (ED).
The fines do not represent a final resolution, which is still pending as OHS reviews testimony and evidence gathered during and since conducting a Certificate of Need (CON) hearing last fall. HHC at the time threatened to keep WCMH’s maternity unit shuttered indefinitely, despite the overwhelming public outcry led by a coalition of community, faith, civil rights, consumer and labor advocates.
“The sum of $65,000 is a pittance to Hartford HealthCare’s CEO and top brass, yet they will not take responsibility for their actions,” said Heather Howlett, president of WCMH United Employees, AFT Local 5099. “They should have long ago done the right thing and restored the maternity ward at Windham Hospital. Instead, Hartford HealthCare executives continue to find more ways to deflect their responsibility to this community,” added Howlett, a patient care technician in WCMH’s ED.
“Since Hartford HealthCare took control of Windham Hospital, our community has seen a dramatic shift in the quality of patient care,” said Brenda Buchbinder, vice president of Natchaug Hospital Unions United, AFT Local 5052. “A full, permanent re-opening of the labor and delivery unit is the only just outcome for the region’s families,” added Buchbinder, a therapist at Natchaug Hospital in Mansfield.
HHC executives in September of 2020 officially filed for approval to terminate WCMH’s labor and delivery services with OHS, 17 months after hatching their scheme to do so. Mothers and babies since then have been forced to seek inpatient obstetric services at facilities far from their homes and at unnecessary personal risk.
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The Hartford HealthCare Organization of Professional Employees coalition (HOPE) includes AFT Connecticut-affiliated local unions representing nurses and health professionals employed at Hartford HealthCare-owned hospitals and facilities across the state. Its collective membership is committed, in solidarity, to providing the highest quality care to families and their community.