Advocates in support of keeping the maternity ward at Windham Hospital up and running made a bold statement on Monday to Hartford Healthcare leaders. The advocates are hoping the hospital will continue to be able to provide critical labor and delivery services to eastern Connecticut.
In a final push, on the steps of Hartford Hospital, advocates from the Windham United to Save Our Healthcare Coalition called for Hartford Healthcare leaders not to file an appeal on the Office of Health Strategy's denial of its plan to permanently close Windham Hospital's maternity unit.
"The reality is as they close the Wyndham labor and delivery in violation of state regulations that are designed to protect patients," said Vice-President of AFT Connecticut Union John Brady.
The OHS denied Hartford Healthcare's Certificate of Need application to close the unit last month. Advocates say Hartford Healthcare has until the end of this week to appeal OHS' decision.
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Lynn Ide says Hartford Healthcare shuttered Windham Hospital's maternity Unit in mid 2020 before seeking regulatory approval, but Hartford Healthcare says it saw years of declining births and that it became impossible to provide a safe, quality childbirth experience at Windham Hospital because of departures of obstetricians and trained staff.
Still, Ide says labor and delivery services are still greatly needed in one of the most rural and low-income parts of the state.
"Women who live in a rule part of the state to travel thousands of miles on scary windy back roads, sometimes delivering in an ambulance," said Ide.
Brady says Hartford Healthcare's move is an example of how it operates more like a financial institution than community healthcare provider, now forcing women to travel to Backus or Hartford Hospital for their deliveries.
NBC Connecticut asked Hartford Healthcare if it plans to file an appeal, but have yet to hear back.