Hartford HealthCare seeks to permanently close obstetrics unit at Windham Hospital

Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare is seeking approval to permanently close its maternity ward at Windham (Conn.) Hospital.

The health system paused the delivery services at Windham Hospital in July 2020, but it is now seeking approval from Connecticut's Office of Health Strategy to make the pause permanent.

In its decision, Windham Hospital said it delivers the lowest number of babies in the state and has had trouble requiring providers to continue the service.

"This decision is so that mothers have access to the best care to deliver their babies and there is a coordinated plan to ensure that patients can safely deliver their baby at [Hartford HealthCare's] Backus Hospital or a hospital of their choice," Windham Hospital said. 

The closure of the birthing unit in Windham, which is Connecticut's most economically distressed municipality based on population, unemployment, poverty and educational attainment, has faced pushback from several community members and state officials.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong submitted comments to the Office of Health Strategy urging careful scrutiny of the planned service termination.

"Asking these parents to travel an additional 25-45 minutes in order to undergo a major medical procedure at another hospital is not a mere inconvenience; it creates additional burden and risk for an already vulnerable mother and baby," Mr. Tong said. "To that end, we urge your office to closely examine this application and balance the benefits of ending obstetric services at Windham Hospital with the consequences of doing so and consider what steps might be taken to bolster community-based prenatal and postpartum services for this high need population."

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