Hartford HealthCare fined after ending maternity services at 1 hospital

Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare was fined after it ended maternity services at Windham (Conn.) Community Memorial Hospital without first filing certificate of need, according to a news release emailed to Becker's

The Connecticut Office of Health Strategy issued the fine against the organization in February. Hartford HealthCare was fined at a rate of $1,000 per day for a total of $65,000. 

In a letter sent to Hartford HealthCare, the health agency said the company applied for a certificate of need in September 2020 to end the services, but the last birth occured in late June 2020. 

The agency said Hartford HealthCare is in violation of state statutes requiring hospitals to file and obtain a certificate of need from the office before terminating an inpatient or outpatient service. 

"The hospital was aware ... it was required under the CON statutes to file and obtain approval prior to termination of such services," a letter from the strategy office reads. "Based on the evidence cited above, the hospital, in violation of applicable law, intentionally terminated the service prior to filing its CON application. Consequently, the hospital is in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 19a-638(a)(5), which requires that a CON be issued by OHS prior to the termination of an inpatient or outpatient service."

In a statement to Becker's, Hartford Healthcare said it disagrees with the penalty, but it is "committed to working with OHS to bring our application to a decision in a timely manner."

Hartford HealthCare said it sought approval to end maternity services at the Windham hospital because of years of declining births and recruitment challenges. It argues that it submitted the request in September 2020, and the Office of Health Strategy didn't set a public hearing on the matter until Nov. 10, 2021. 

"As our CON application explained, and as experts testified, it had become impossible to provide a safe, quality childbirth experience at Windham Hospital due to departures of obstetricians and trained staff," Hartford HealthCare said. "During 2019 and 2020, Windham Hospital averaged only six births per month. We have created a plan for childbirth that provides high-quality, coordinated care for mothers and their babies at a hospital of the mother's choice; and we have enhanced pre- and post-partum care at Windham Hospital and in the region."

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