Save Sharon Hospital was originally formed during the summer of 2018 when we found out that Sharon Hospital planned to close Maternity services in less than a month. We were outraged by the decision to remove this vital service from our community and upset by the lack of communication from Sharon Hospital. We hosted a rally to Save Sharon Hospital on the Sharon Town Green, with several speakers including local CT and NY selectmen, the CT State Representative, and concerned members of the community (including two women whose lives were saved because they had access to emergent obstetric surgery within a few minutes of their homes in Millerton, NY and Kent, CT). We also sent hundreds of signed letters from our community to state officials, asking them to ensure Labor and Delivery stayed open. Our hard work paid off, and Sharon Hospital announced that it would keep Labor and Delivery open indefinitely!
Later that year, HealthQuest (the NY-based company that previously owned Sharon Hospital) and Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN), applied to the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy (OHS) to merge their two organizations. At the public hearing for this merger, several members of our community shared testimony about the importance of maintaining Sharon Hospital as a full-service hospital. We also discussed our disappointment in the lack of communication from HealthQuest to the community and our hopes that after the merger the new ownership could do better. OHS made the decision that HealthQuest and WCHN could merge (eventually becoming Nuvance Health), and took our public testimony to heart – OHS required that Sharon Hospital maintain all services including Maternity for the next five years (see Certificate of Need 18-32238-CON), and that the new managers of Sharon Hospital be more open with its communication.
Then in 2020, in the face of the global pandemic, Save Sharon Hospital organized the community to support Sharon Hospital. When masks were scarce but necessary for all (especially our healthcare workers!), we started a large community mask-making operation and donated hundreds of homemade facemasks to Sharon Hospital. We organized a meal train to support staff with delicious food from local restaurants, and we organized the delivery of artwork from local grade schools, in an effort to thank all hospital staff for their hard work and dedication.
Fast forward to September 2021, and once again Nuvance announced plans to close Maternity, this time in 8-12 months. However, they have yet to obtain approval from OHS, and its five-year commitment is not up until April 1, 2024. Rather than closing down our vital services, Nuvance should be using the remaining time in its five-year commitment to find sustainable solutions to maintain our hospital as a full-service operation.
Since Nuvance’s September 2021 announcement, we have formed a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, Save Sharon Hospital, Inc, and hired an experienced healthcare attorney, Paul Knag from Murtha Cullina LLP – one of Connecticut’s major law firms. Mr. Knag is co-chair of Murtha Cullina’s Health Care Group and the past president of the Connecticut Health Lawyers Association. He is already helping us plan our legal strategy and communications with OHS, and is responding to the legal filings in connection with the ongoing CON process.
In response to the letters from Save Sharon Hospital and the medical community, on February 3, 2022, OHS opened an official investigation into Nuvance’s compliance at Sharon Hospital with the initial agreement made in April 2019, citing: “Information received from the community and Hospital suggests that key discrepancies persist concerning the Hospital’s compliance…” and that OHS “shall have the power to administer oaths and take testimony related to the matter of the investigation.”
Once again, Sharon Hospital administration is breaking its promises to our community, and we cannot let them make their proposed changes to our hospital. Thank you for joining us as we fight to maintain the vital healthcare services in our community!