Hartford Hospital File Photo
Hartford Hospital
Hartford Hospital File Photo

Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam could become the next hospital to join Hartford HealthCare, the parent company of Hartford, Backus and Windham hospitals, MidState Medical Center and The Hospital of Central Connecticut.

The two organizations announced Thursday that they had signed a nonbinding letter of intent allowing them to explore a formal affiliation.

Even before reaching a decision on a formal affiliation, Day Kimball plans to enter separate agreements with Hartford HealthCare that would allow it to gain economies of scale through management support for certain operations.

The two organizations also plan to work together on patient quality and safety initiatives. Day Kimball physicians will be able to join Hartford HealthCare’s Integrated Care Partners, a physician organization that is working to coordinate care and develop other strategies to adapt to a changing payment system in which providers are expected to be rewarded based in part on patient outcomes and their ability to control costs.

Day Kimball, which has 122 beds, is one of many independent Connecticut hospitals that have been considering joining larger organizations. On Wednesday, the parent company of New London’s Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and Rhode Island’s Westerly Hospital announced plans to join the Yale New Haven Health System. Waterbury Hospital and Eastern Connecticut Health Network – the parent company of Manchester Memorial and Rockville General hospitals – have plans to be acquired by Prospect Medical Holdings, a Los Angeles-based for-profit hospital company, while St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford is seeking regulatory approval to join Trinity Health, a national nonprofit Catholic hospital network.

Hospital officials say joining larger organizations is a key way to adapt to declining state and federal funding and changes in how care is delivered and paid for. But the growing consolidation in the hospital industry has drawn scrutiny from some lawmakers, who warn that it can reduce patient choice and raise prices.

Hartford HealthCare has also come under fire from some state officials after announcing plans last month to eliminate the jobs of 418 workers, which the health system attributed to federal and state funding cuts.

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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