The fate of the Windham Community Memorial Hospital's maternity unit is now in the hands of the state's Office of Health Strategy. A hearing to decide if Hartford HealthCare can permanently end labor and delivery services at Windham Hospital was held on November 10th. Members of the Windham United to Save our Healthcare Coalition, along with the community at large, were given the opportunity to speak out against the closure.
Representatives for Hartford HealthCare have said the decision to discontinue labor and delivery services at the hospital has come after "years of declining births and recruitment challenges." Patients are now sent outside of their community to give birth at either Backus Hospital in Norwich or Manchester Hospital. Leah Ralls, Windham/Willimantic NAACP Chapter President, says she fears financially struggling families without access to transportation won't be able to travel when it's time to give birth.
Losing obstetric care isn't exclusively a Connecticut problem. A national trend of rural hospitals cutting services has been gaining steam since 2014, a problem that has a particularly acute effect on communities of color.
While we wait for the verdict from the Office of Health Strategy, the fight of Windham United to Save our Healthcare is far from over. The next step is to propose legislation to help combat this national trend, and to hold large healthcare chains accountable. Keep an eye out as there is still much more to come on this issue.
Click here to email the coalition for updates.