After a year of talks, a problematic proposed hospital merger in Waterbury, CT, is off the table.
This proposed deal involved a for-profit partner – LHP Hospital Group -- out of Texas that originally approached St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, a Catholic facility owned by the local diocese. When officials of the only other hospital in Waterbury – secular Waterbury Hospital -- heard about the talks, they asked to join. The new deal would have culminated with the building of a replacement hospital in 5 years. Even though LHP would have owned 80 percent and Waterbury and St. Mary’s would each own just 10 percent, the joint venture’s new facility would have been operated under the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs).
However, finding a way to preserve local access to reproductive health services not allowed under the ERDs proved to be impossible. Archbishop of Hartford, CT, Henry Mansell, rejected five creative solutions – including the kind of hospital-within-a-hospital that MergerWatch helped bring about in Troy, NY, over the course of the year.
In late summer, advocates were presented with a proposal that the Archbishop Mansell said he finally found acceptable - a hybrid ambulatory surgery center with a Level 1 nursery to be located across the street from the new replacement hospital. The Women’s Pavilion would have provided post-partum tubals, but only following low-risk c-sections, along with vasectomies, family planning and interval tubal ligations. Once we saw the plan and considered the narrow range of women who could actually receive post-partum tubal ligations at this center, the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (CT PCSW) quickly rejected the proposal. The deal then quickly fell apart.
Waterbury Hospital's CEO Darlene Stromstad said in The Hartford Courant, "The objectives that needed to be satisfied in order to proceed — particularly as they relate to our efforts to comply with the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church — were too many and too insurmountable to allow us to realize our goal. We've come to the conclusion it simply isn't going to work."
It was an honor to work on this case with the dedicated staff at CT PCSW, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, Compassion & Choices and local advocates throughout the year. We will continue to monitor this case as the town's two hospitals explore new ways to address their financial challenges.