Johnson Memorial Hospital plans to discontinue the Labor and Delivery Unit in Stafford. It also plans to end its Surgical Services, Intensive Care Unit and Medical/Surgical Unit.
The hospital said the proposed changes are expected to take a year to 18 months, depending on approval from the state’s Office of Health Strategy.
The public notice to initiate the Certificate of Need application process to discontinue Johnson’s Labor and Delivery Services is being filed today, according to the hospital.
If the proposal is approved, all expecting mothers would be offered the opportunity to deliver their newborns at Saint Francis Hospital, according to Johnson Memorial, but the Johnson Memorial Emergency Department will remain prepared to care for all maternity patients.
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Johnson Memorial Hospital, which is owned by Trinity Health New England, previously put what it said was a temporary pause on the labor and delivery services “in response to pandemic-related staffing challenges which resulted in staff turnover and difficulty in recruitment of new, qualified staff.”
In December, the company said it didn’t have plans to permanently close the unit and hoped to bring on enough staff to return labor and delivery services to the hospital.
At the time, some lawmakers expressed concerns that the decision had more to do with the bottom line.
“I am deeply concerned by this news and the potential impact on the families who rely on Johnson Memorial for safe, community-based care," Attorney General William Tong said in a statement. "This is a distressing pattern that we seem to be seeing across rural hospitals here. I expect to be involved in the Certificate of Need process before the Office of Health Strategy, and will need to hear a lot more evidence and information as to how this move makes sense for families in Stafford and surrounding towns.”
In a statement Wednesday, Trinity Health Of New England said the original decision to temporarily pause L&D services "was made largely in response to pandemic-related staffing challenges which resulted in staff turnover and difficulty in recruitment of new, qualified staff."
"We have worked diligently to recruit staff to be able to safely reopen these services since then, but unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful. The 'delay' in filing the CON is indicative of our desire to return safe, high-quality L&D services to Johnson. We've taken this action now because we cannot safely offer these services without adequate staffing, and that situation isn’t likely to change," the statement said.
Johnson Memorial Hospital released a statement Wednesday, saying the aging population in the communities it serves is expected to increase by 16% over the next five years.
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To hospital said its plans include the newly constructed $6.3 million Geriatric Wellness Pavilion and the hospital is working with Athena Health Care Systems, which runs Evergreen Health Care Center on the hospital’s campus, to explore additional, on-campus expansion opportunities for long-term care, assisted living and senior housing.
Johnson Memorial said plans also include the launch of Trinity Health Of New England EMS services in the greater Stafford community and an application to launch the new EMS services is pending with the Office of Emergency Management Services.
Trinity Health Of New England said it will work with state regulatory agencies to file a second Certificate of Need application to request Saint Francis Hospital and Johnson Memorial consolidate operations under a single general license. If approved, Saint Francis and Johnson would operate and function as one acute care hospital with two campuses, in Hartford and Stafford.
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