Letters to the Editor - The Millerton News - 11-10-22
Sharon L & D plan can work well
I am an RN and Quality Director at Sharon Hospital. I am writing this letter in support of Sharon Hospital’s transformative plan and urge my fellow community members to understand the facts of this plan and the benefits to our community.
I have been an RN for 30 years, and I am a longtime resident of Litchfield County. I am keenly aware of the unique challenges hospitals face, especially in terms of recruiting and retaining clinicians and staff to this area. I know that at Sharon Hospital, these issues are especially challenging.
I gave birth to my three children at New Milford Hospital, which gives me the understanding of giving birth within a rural region as both a mother and as a caregiver. I understand mothers’ concerns about when and where their birth plans will take place. However, I want to offer a different perspective to those who have brought up safety concerns with Sharon Hospital’s plans.
When New Milford Hospital phased out their labor and delivery unit in 2013, I witnessed firsthand how leadership and staff were able to make that transition effective, efficient, and most importantly, safe. In the many years since New Milford Hospital closed their Labor and Delivery unit, they have seen no emergent births, and in the event there is a patient who does present and birth is imminent, staff have received all necessary training. Most importantly, the service lines the New Milford community needed most are thriving. I can confirm that this model can and will work for the sustainable future of a hospital.
The healthcare landscape is changing, and I understand that in order to remain part of our community and grow in the services we need most, that includes making tough decisions as it relates to areas that are underutilized. While I share in the community’s sadness around losing a service, I know that Sharon Hospital’s transformative plan was made in the interest of our patients and fully anticipate that it will lead to the enhancement of services most needed by our community.
SH L & D very necessary
This letter is in response to the letter written by Dr.Leroy Nickles of Sharon Hospital, which was published Oct. 27 in this newspaper. Dr. Nickles writes: “Sharon Hospital can handle emergency situations, including those surrounding pregnant women and babies in the community. That is “All Good and Well”, but Dr. Nickles fails to mention all the women who are not in an emergency situation yet! When these women feel the labor of their child’s birth, most often their husband, a family member or a friend will drive them to the Hospital, which might take approximately 20 minutes.
If the maternity department closes, these non-emergency deliveries might become an emergency for the expectant mother as well as for the baby, if they have to travel longer than here to fore. And, don’t forget: these women are not in an ambulance; they are driven most likely by a non-medical individual.
This is a profound reason why so many people are against the closure of the maternity department at Sharon Hospital. In addition, I would like to mention that many of us older people are jubilant about the influx of young families in this beautiful, active and deeply alive community.
Difficult decisions for a healthier region
As the Chair of Primary Care at Nuvance Health, I spearhead and participate in the ongoing conversations with Sharon Hospital leadership, community physicians, and the volunteer board regarding our commitment to expand access to primary care across Sharon Hospital’s service area. I am writing today in support of the Sharon Hospital Transformation Plan, including the proposed closure of the Labor & Delivery department.
I understand better than most the weight that goes into a decision such as this. With my years of experience in healthcare, particularly in primary care with a board certification in family medicine, I recognize the importance of supporting women throughout the duration of their lifespan. However, we must also recognize that a rural hospital like Sharon Hospital needs to adapt as healthcare evolves.
Prior to joining Nuvance Health, I worked in rural Iowa where Labor & Delivery and ICU patients were always referred to tertiary care centers. I saw first-hand Labor & Delivery patients safely and successfully transferred to hospitals within driving distance, where mothers and babies were still guaranteed high-quality care.
Sharon Hospital’s proposed transformation plan is focused on strengthening the services that data shows are needed most across the region. Closing Labor & Delivery is a difficult but necessary decision that will allow us to invest in other services to help the hospital remain strong in serving our community. The Sharon community is changing while healthcare delivery is evolving. It is imperative that we expand access to primary and specialty care across the region for our patients, and we can only do this if Sharon Hospital is sustainable for the future.
As my team works to support the transformation plan and focus on growing primary care in a rural market, we must be creative to attract new talent to the area to build and maintain a strong primary care infrastructure for the future. Our local recruitment committee has left no stone unturned in our recruitment efforts, most recently spearheading Sharon Hospital specific recruitment video featuring local actors and trusted Sharon Hospital physicians. As a result of these myriad efforts, we’ve welcomed new, skilled clinicians to our primary care team — proof of our commitment to the growth-based aspects of the transformation plan.
I’m confident that Sharon Hospital’s transformation plan will allow us to devote more time and resources to continuing the expansion of primary and specialty care services that are currently needed in our community. This plan will keep Sharon Hospital strong, ultimately creating a healthier region.
Cornelius Ferreira, MD
Chair, Primary Care at Nuvance Health