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Rural Connecticut residents fight hospital merger, cite broken promises by Health Quest

Residents of Sharon, Conn. gathered Dec. 4 to speak out against a proposed merger between Danbury, Conn.-based Western Connecticut Health Network and Lagrangeville, N.Y.-based Health Quest Systems, according to the NewsTimes.

The merger would create a $2.4 billion system and serve 1.5 million patients across New York and western Connecticut at seven hospitals.

But  Sharon residents are protesting the proposal because they say Health Quest, which recently acquired Sharon Hospital, has gone back on previous promises and plans to close the hospital's maternity ward. They want state regulators to delay approval of the merger until Health Quest outlines a plan to continue these services.

Robert Friedberg, president of Health Quest, said the hospital did not intend to discontinue maternity care, but was forced to after their obstetrician group left the network.

"Our commitment is to provide services as long as we have obstetricians," said Mr. Friedberg.

The merger is still pending approval from New York and federal regulators. Executives from both systems said the deal would allow hospitals to improve efficiency and better recruit physicians, but Sharon residents are skeptical an even larger entity would remain invested in rural healthcare.

"You hear about the good things of efficiencies, but in rural areas we know by nature that healthcare is more expensive," said state Rep.-elect Maria Horn. "We worry about services being rolled into larger hospitals."

More articles on healthcare industry transactions:

Bankruptcy court approves sale of Mississippi hospital
South Carolina health system OKs acquisition of 4 hospitals from CHS
California DOJ approves CHI-Dignity merger, with conditions

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