Preparation for an October rally in favor of access to safe birthing in rural Connecticut communities.

Gov. Ned Lamont rightly touts Connecticut to be a family-friendly state, US News and World Report ranked our state third best for overall quality of healthcare in 2021.  Yet right now, community hospitals in the rural regions at our state’s opposite corners (Windham and Sharon) are threatened by two different, large, Connecticut-based hospital chains that are actively closing labor and delivery services.

How are families to grow in our rural areas if there is no access to safe birthing?

I live in the Sharon Hospital region where Nuvance Health owns Sharon Hospital. Their chief executive, Dr. John Murphy, and CFO, Steven Rosenberg, are both Connecticut-based leaders in their field, and they are well compensated recipients of many awards. The IRS 990 form for the year ending September 30, 2020 show that Dr. Murphy’s total compensation was in excess of $7 million, of which $4.4 million was retirement and deferred compensation (out of an accumulated total in his retirement plan of $18 million). Steven Rosenberg earned  $2.2 million in total compensation.

We, the people of the Sharon Hospital region, have expended considerable time and effort over the past two decades to help sustain our hospital.  When Western Connecticut Health Network merged with HealthQuest (New York based) to form Nuvance in 2019, we hoped these two Connecticut-based industry leaders, Dr. Murphy and Mr. Rosenberg, would collaborate with us.

Instead, they wooed us with big statements and false promises.

They promised primary care and did not deliver.

They promised to build the hospital’s patient population, and have not supported surgery.

They promised to sustain obstetrics for five years and began dismissing nurses two and a half years in, prematurely announcing the closure of obstetrical services during a pandemic no less.

Unfortunately, this is not new in the American hospital ethos. It doesn’t take highly paid executives to close a hospital. There is a formula they follow, starting with closing labor and delivery services, and surgical care.

Yet another study in the October issue of Health Affairs finds that rural hospitals still have a central role in their communities, through service and employment. However, “…merged hospitals were more likely than independent hospitals to eliminate maternal/neonatal and surgical care.”

With all their experience, shouldn’t Dr. Murphy and Mr. Rosenberg be able to run against the grain and create something innovative and gutsy, here at Sharon Hospital?

They could earn national accolades by collaborating with the community to build a truly sustainable hospital. The community can offer a fresh perspective from outside the industry, and we could blend that with Dr. Murphy and Mr. Rosenberg’s expertise to create a new paradigm for a community hospital.  Dr. Murphy himself expressed the importance of collaboration as quoted by the governor’s office.  “As we continue to navigate through this unprecedented health emergency, we know our collective response for the people of Connecticut will be stronger because of this collaborative approach.” Let the Sharon Hospital be the jewel in their crown, not a stain on their reputation.

There will be a meeting on November 5 on Zoom and in-person by invitation at Sharon Town Hall.  Dr. Murphy will have the opportunity to speak directly with the elected officials of the Sharon Hospital region.  Citizens will be able to live chat our questions, but be sure to tell your elected officials what questions you have in advance.

The meeting will be led by Sharon First Selectman Brent Colley and District 64 State Rep. Maria Horn. Regional officials from both New York State and Connecticut and representatives from Nuvance will also be attending. Visit the events page of www.sharonCt.org for the link. There will also be a rally in support of the nurses of Sharon Hospital on the Sharon Green Saturday, November 6 at 3 p.m..  Join us. Details on both events are here. Contact us at Savesharonhospital@gmail.com

Deborah Moore of Sharon is a member of the Save Sharon Hospital organizing team.