Letters to the Editor - The Lakeville Journal - 10-6-22
Hospital needs to uphold principles
For months, I have been following the debate about why Sharon Hospital should or shouldn’t close its Maternity unit. I understand, from my own first-hand experience as president of two small colleges, how important it is to set priorities for programming and to balance budgets.
In fact, during the 10 years when I was president at Wilson College in the small town of Chambersburg, Pa., the CEO of the local hospital and I met regularly, since our organizations had much in common: similar constituents and employee group profiles, including some highly educated and independent people; comparable leadership and management issues; complex and expensive facilities and equipment to maintain; budgets to balance; a range of programs and services needed to fulfill our missions and serve the community; continual need to promote our services, attract clients, recruit talent.
It is with this background of experience that I offer the following perspective:
First, even though Sharon Hospital is one of the most highly rated hospitals in Connecticut, I see no evidence that any steps — other than mention on the website — have been taken to promote the excellence of the maternity unit. I don’t know of any CEO, whose organization depends on a steady stream of clients, who doesn’t have to recruit vigorously. Such promotion was promised; it never materialized. Plenty of positive testimony about the strength of these services is available. Why was there no vigorous promotion and recruitment of clients for our maternity unit?
Second, in every organization, there are units that are money makers and those that, while not financially profitable, are essential to the organization’s mission and the community. In universities, certain sciences — such as organic chemistry programs — are often under-enrolled. Nearly all university science programs do not produce much — if any — net revenue, due to the high cost of equipment, laboratories, lab assistants, etc., very much as in the case of hospitals. However, organic chemistry is an essential part of a science education, and other units, such as business, are highly financially rewarding.
It’s understood that one unit’s financial success ensures that essential programs, such as organic chemistry, can continue. A loss-leader may not make money, but it is important to being able to attract quality students (patients), faculty (physicians), and staff. These principles apply equally to businesses.
It is common knowledge that maternity units, like organic chemistry programs, are either marginally or not at all profitable. On the other hand, Sharon Hospital offers at least four of medicine’s six most lucrative services, including cardiovascular services, neuroscience, orthopedics and oncology. What could possibly be more essential to a community than a maternity unit, especially one that is trying very hard to retain all the young families who moved here during the pandemic? Surely there is adequate revenue from the top four medical services to offset losses in maternity.
The proposal to close maternity services is not only untrustworthy, but dangerous and shameful.
Sharon Hospital’s future in question
I’m worried about the future of Sharon Hospital and you should be too. You don’t have to be a Wall Street analyst, but it helps, to see that Nuvance Health is on a well-worn path to close it. Sharon Hospital makes this area an attractive place to live and to an extent, adds to property values. If it weren’t here, I think we are all aware of the long-distance alternatives. It can’t shut down the hospital today, simply because it wants to, it has to “justify” its actions, but a review of its actions shows it is clearly headed in that direction.
Its first shot was to declare that Sharon Hospital lost $41.16 million from FY17-FY21 and that these “losses cannot be sustained.” (www.nuvancehealth.org/locations/sharon-hospital/sharon-hospital-transfor...). Done properly, that analysis includes a portion of the CEO’s $13 million pay in 2020 and some portion of Nuvance’s 200,000 sq. foot office space expenses in Danbury, along with all the salaries of all the people who work there.
How much did they include? How do we know that the numbers weren’t cast differently for different of its hospitals in order to prove that Sharon Hospital is “unsustainable?” The company won’t say. The presentation says that data proving the loss is proprietary. How this number was arrived at needs much more disclosure, because taken at face value, the next step is to convince us all that it needs to cut services that aren’t “financially viable.”
Here again, the same problem emerges. Labor & Delivery is cut because there aren’t enough patients to make it “sustainable.” We have the same question? How much of the Nuvance CEO’s salary is allocated to the expense of Labor & Delivery and is every department in the hospital treated in the same fashion or does Labor & Delivery get singled out?
Sharon Hospital is a large and aging facility. It is expensive to operate, and Nuvance needs to spend money on the facility to keep up with improvements in care. That is overhead. In this way, it is no different than a large factory. Nuvance is saying it needs to do less in the building and this will demonstrably lead to closure. There is an old saying in business that “you can’t shrink your way to prosperity.”
By declaring the hospital needs to cut services to become “sustainable,” the building and maintenance become an ever-larger burden for what’s left; at which point doctors and nurses see the handwriting on the wall, making it even easier to demonstrate to the state of Connecticut, without resorting to an analytical exercise, that Sharon Hospital is just too expensive to maintain.
That is where we are headed if it continues to cut services.
Theodore Rudd O’Neill
Vote for Hayes
Can you imagine turning back the clock 50 years to take away the right of a woman to choose? This past summer the debate about Roe vs. Wade had me speechless!
Every woman should be allowed full control over their own bodies and full authority over their decisions. The systemic barriers to health care in general has caused too many women to be excluded from proper healthcare.
Fortunately, in the 5th Congressional District, we have Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, who took the mantle during a U.S. House floor debate and voted to pass legislation to strengthen and protect reproductive freedom in the United States. Her debate on the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 and the Ensuring Abortion Access Act will empower women to make their own decisions and prevent States from interfering with the bodies, decisions and reproductive rights of women. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is always out front fighting for ALL of us and she deserves our votes on Nov. 8.
President of the Connecticut Federation of Democratic Women
Don’t buy into the attack ads on George Logan
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just spent over $1 million in September to run false attack ads on 5th District congressional candidate George Logan. You may have seen the one falsely accusing him of being opposed to abortion. This accusation could not be further from the truth. George Logan has a track record of supporting a woman’s right to choose. In fact, he is the only Republican congressional candidate in Connecticut to declare he would not support a national abortion ban. He would leave the issue to the states, where it belongs in light of the Dobbs decision. By the way, a woman’s right to an abortion is perfectly safe in Connecticut, which long ago adopted the Roe doctrine as state law.
These “abortion scare” ads tell us one thing: Democrat leadership has nothing else to run on. They can’t run on the economy, inflation, crime, the border, the fentanyl crisis, or the severely declining test scores in our schools. Families and businesses are struggling to make ends meet, and it will take a commonsense problem solver to go to Washington and put an end to excessive spending packages, tax increases, and regulations that have made it difficult for small businesses to operate.
George Logan has a track record of being fiscally responsible. In the state Senate, he was a key voice in helping pass a bi-partisan state budget, which included a spending cap, volatility cap, and bonding cap, which has led to an ample rainy day fund. George is one of the most respectful, engaging, and hard working people you’ll ever meet. I encourage everyone to look into his background and his time in the state senate, and support him based on his proven record and character.
Republican Town Comittee
Lies are part of season
It’s an axiom of politics that if you tell a lie long enough and loud enough people will come to believe it. Putin has been using it all year to convince the Russian people he is winning the war in Ukraine. As bizarre as it seems in Connecticut, millions of Americans still believe the election was stolen from Donald Trump. Now the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running television commercials trying to convince us that our 5th District congressional candidate George Logan is a tool of big oil and is responsible for our outrageous heating and electricity costs.
The truth is George Logan has been an engineer with the Aquarion Water Company for 30 years. His current job is Community Relations Director for Aquarion. He has no ties to big oil, to the cost of gasoline and heating fuel or to the high cost of electricity in Connecticut. In fact, he has been campaigning on a promise to work to reduce those costs.
All of us in Connecticut recognize we have a serious issue with climate change. As a country we must lead the world in reducing our dependence on high carbon emitting sources of energy. George Logan’s opponent has supported the most extreme elements of her party in trying to ban the use of fossil fuels outright. Her goal may be worthy, but she ignores the devastating impact of such a policy. We should be working toward reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, but we can’t do it overnight.
We need people like George Logan in Congress to restrain the influence of both political extremes and develop a responsible, long term and workable energy policy.
GOP is here to help fix America’s problems
The fixers have arrived! As things have broken down they must be repaired. The Biden administration serves as a case in point. Inflation has reached a 40-year high. Our country’s borders have ceased to exist, allowing record-breaking cross-border illegal immigration, human smuggling, and fentanyl. Crime in large cities has reached record levels. Enemies of the U.S. have been emboldened by American leadership policies. The present situation is an out of control train hurtling toward a dangerous cliff.
Inflation is affecting every individual in the country. Placed in context, the Heritage Foundation has projected the average American has lost the equivalent of $4,200 in annual income under the Democrat Biden administration: minus $3,000 annual purchasing power and $1,200 higher interest and borrowing costs.
The good news is that the Republican Party has crafted “The Commitment To America” policy to fix the Biden-Blumenthal and Hayes failures.
Highlights are as follows:
On addressing the economy, the goal is to curb wasteful spending, resume energy independence, i.e., pipelines and oil drilling, and moving supply chains away from China.
On safety, to fully fund border enforcement, stop and catch release, support 200,000 more police officers, crackdown on prosecutors/and or district attorneys who refused to prosecute crimes, and criminalize all forums of fentanyl.
On preserving “individual freedom,” instituting a parental Bill of Rights including school choice and fairness in women’s sports. To reign in the power of Big Tech to suppress free speech.
On preserving constitutional freedom, to uphold religious freedom, freedom of speech, life, and Second Amendment rights. Institute oversight of government overreach. End of proxy voting and increased election integrity with voter I.D.
Republican candidates George Logan (5th District) and Leora Levy (U.S. Senate) have pledged to follow this commitment to America.
If you have been dissatisfied with the present state of the economy and crime and/ or big government mandates, help is on the way. Vote on Nov. 8 for GOP candidates whose mission is to bring sanity back to government.
Vice Chair Kent RTC