The Federal Trade Commission has approved an affiliation between the parent companies of Hartford Hospital and The Hospital of Central Connecticut, allowing one of the largest health care chains in the state to get bigger.

The affiliation will put The Hospital of Central Connecticut, which has campuses in Southington and New Britain, into the network that includes Hartford and Windham Hospitals and MidState Medical Center in Meriden. It will take effect Feb. 1.

The arrangement is not a merger, and the hospitals will maintain their own licenses and medical staffs. But it will allow them to join forces in a wide range of areas, such as shared information technology systems, equipment purchases, physician recruitment and clinical practices.

The state Office of Health Care Access approved the affiliation plan last year. During the approval process, hospital officials projected that the affiliation could save at least $230 million over five years. Much of the savings were projected to come from centralizing and consolidating “back office ” adminstrative functions like food services, pharmacy, printing, transcription and billing.

The most recent savings estimates include $8.8 million in savings for salaries and benefits over five years. Hartford Hospital Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Thomas Marchozzi said the organizations anticipate achieving most or all of those savings through attrition.

Earlier estimates cited during the OHCA approval process last year included higher salary and benefits savings–$37.9 million over five years. The numbers have changed in part because the two sides were limited in the information they could share with each other before the affiliation was approved.

Hospital affiliations have become common across the country and, increasingly, in Connecticut as a way to handle tight margins, increase efficiency and access capital.

The Hospital of Central Connecticut is itself the product of a 2006 merger between Southington’s Bradley Memorial Hospital and New Britain General. Its parent company, Central Connecticut Health Alliance, also includes imaging centers, a visiting nurse service and long-term care and rehabilitation facilities. It will become part of Hartford HealthCare Corporation, Hartford Hospital’s parent company.

Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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