After more than five months of negotiations, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital and Hartford HealthCare announced they will seek state and federal approval to make the Torrington-based hospital the sixth in the Hartford HealthCare network.
The governing boards of both entities announced Friday they had approved a formal affiliation. They now face a number of regulatory hurdles that could keep the partnership from moving forward for several months, according to a spokesman for Hartford HealthCare.
The partnership would make Charlotte Hungerford the hub of a Hartford HealthCare expansion into the northwest region of the state.
“Charlotte Hungerford has been at the center of health care delivery for northwestern Connecticut since its founding a century ago,” said Elliot Joseph, president and chief executive officer of Hartford HealthCare. “It is uniquely attuned to the health care needs of those it serves.”
The earliest the partnership can move forward is January, when an order from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy expires that postpones hospital transactions involving health systems with more than 20 percent of the operating revenues of all hospital systems in the state. The order affects both the Hartford HealthCare and Yale New Haven Health systems and put off Yale New Haven’s acquisition of New London’s Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in February.
The order was prompted by growing concerns about increased market concentration in Connecticut, both among insurers and independent health care providers, and the way those markets are regulated.
At the state level, the two entities will need to apply for a certificate of need from the Office of Health Care Access, which will evaluate the proposal. The partnership also would need approval from the Federal Trade Commission.
Dan McIntyre, president and executive director of Charlotte Hungerford, said the partnership would help the hospital “to remain a financially viable health care resource.”
Officials of the Torrington hospital said the affiliation would improve the quality of health care available to its patients and the infrastructure at the hospital. Hartford HealthCare officials say it stands to gain from expanding its reach and recruiting other area health care providers into its network.
The agreement includes a $50 million commitment “to fund maintenance and replacement capital projects” at Charlotte Hungerford and sets aside an additional $20 million in a strategic investment fund.
It also includes $3 million for staff training and recruiting, and $2.5 million for the Northwest Community Foundation to “enhance economic and community well-being.”
Charlotte Hungerford began considering a partnership with a larger network in 2014 as rising costs and increased competition made operating independently more difficult, hospital officials said. The hospital reached an agreement to explore affiliating with Hartford HealthCare in late February.
Hartford HealthCare’s hospital network already includes Hartford, Backus and Windham hospitals, The Hospital of Central Connecticut and MidState Medical Center. The network considered an affiliation with the parent company of Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam, but backed away from the talks last fall.