By Elliot Joseph
HHC Chief Executive Officer
The history of healthcare in Connecticut begins with hospitals created to serve their communities – sometimes filling an urgent need. Hartford Hospital was established in response to an 1854 industrial accident that left nine dead and dozens wounded – some critically. There was no place to care for the injured. City residents banded together and founded the hospital that same year and it has been serving its communities every since.
Beginning about a decade ago, we created Hartford HealthCare (HHC) as a system of care that could integrate and coordinate the work of like-minded, community-based clinicians, institutions and organizations across Connecticut. As part of that focus, HHC is updating, renewing and expanding one of our most important centers of care – the Brownstone Ambulatory Care Clinic in Hartford.
Built originally as the Women’s Building, “the Brownstone” (as it is known), has evolved into a center for adult primary and specialty care serving more than 50,000 individuals a year. Most of our patients at the Brownstone are our neighbors in Hartford. Many are poor and face economic, cultural and language barriers to healthcare. As a not-for-profit organization, we’re privileged to provide our world-class care to all patients and families, regardless of their ability to pay.
Many of those served by the Brownstone have medically complex needs, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic pain and various psychosocial challenges. That’s why we bring together primary and specialty care – including an HIV care center and Connecticut’s only nationally certified Cystic Fibrosis clinic. We are able to coordinate care there as we do at all HHC sites.
If all goes as planned, our single busiest Brownstone service, primary care, will move into newly renovated historic buildings on Jefferson Street – just down the street from the Brownstone. Also moving will be the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic and the Community Care Center, which cares for more than 450 HIV patients and their families, and some patient registration and finance staff members. The specialty clinics, including the Department of Dentistry/Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, will stay in the Brownstone (and in our Medical Office Building at 65 Seymour St.). And it’s not just new digs for patients. We are creating new population health workflows to address social determinants of health in order to identify patients at risk and help them prevent the onset – or worsening – of illness. For example, we are identifying our highest-risk chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients and proactively reaching out to them to help them stay healthy with monitoring and improved self-care.
See our video on the Brownstone
We’re doing the work of prevention across our system – our Preventive Medicine Team in our East Region has helped reduce hospital stays for high-risk patient in Eastern Connecticut. In our Central Region, we have worked with officials in Berlin and New Britain to give certain opioid users the option of treatment instead of arrest. And in our Northwest Region, our Fit Together public health initiative helps schools, business and communities by creating easier access to healthy foods and opportunities and desirable places for physical activity.
The 20,000 people of Hartford HealthCare provide care at nearly 300 sites across (and beyond) Connecticut. The renewal of our Brownstone clinics is both a tangible improvement and a symbol of how close we’ve stayed to our community roots.