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Letters to the Editor - The Millerton News - November 18, 2021

Letter to the community: Sharon Hospital Board shares a perspective

Dear fellow members of the Sharon Hospital community:

We, the Sharon Hospital Board, write today in our role as both representatives and members of our community. We have heard from many of our friends and neighbors over the past month, as people across Sharon Hospital’s service area have reacted to the plan announced by its leaders on Sept. 29. That said, we know there are many people who have not yet had the chance to hear from us directly. We would like to take this opportunity to share the reasoning behind — and the process that led to — our endorsement of the plan for Sharon Hospital, as well as to dispel any misinformation.

First, we want to emphasize that no part of this process was easy. As volunteers representing an array of skillsets and backgrounds, we all love this community and we share your deep connection to our hospital. We understand the concern voiced by some community members, and knew that any decision would have lasting effects on the health and vitality of our region. That is why we take our stewardship role seriously to ensure all proposed changes to Sharon Hospital are in the best long-term interests of our community.

This commitment drove our deep involvement in the process that culminated in the transformative plan. After a thorough review of the collected data and analysis with a variety of stakeholders, we can testify to the thorough and thoughtful consideration that informed this strategy. We believe this is the best way to allow Sharon Hospital to not only survive but thrive into the future.

While hospital leaders created this plan, our Board wanted to make sure no stone was left unturned. That is why we requested that Nuvance Health, with the support of the Foundation for Community Health, engage an independent consultant while the hospital evaluated its options. The analysis from Stroudwater Associates — a leading healthcare consulting firm — provided an impartial third-party review. This report provided helpful information about how our community seeks care, but ultimately, it falls to Sharon Hospital and Nuvance Health leadership, with our Board’s guidance, to chart a path forward.

After we reviewed Nuvance Health’s analysis and Stroudwater Associates’ report, one point was clear: Sharon Hospital must evolve to meet the ever-changing healthcare landscape and to continue providing compassionate care to our dynamic community. Maintaining the status quo is not an option.

Our goal is and has always been that Sharon Hospital survives and remains viable to continue serving our community into the future. By focusing on targeted growth in areas of identified community need, we can enhance our primary care, behavioral health services, and ambulatory services such as cardiology, oncology and neurology. In order to do this, however, we also had to come to terms with some difficult decisions, such as phasing out labor & delivery. We share in the sadness of this beloved service leaving Sharon Hospital — many of us started our own families in the labor & delivery unit. However, it would take nearly two to three times the current number of labor & delivery patients to make this service sustainable, and we cannot in good conscience continue supporting underutilized services that are endangering the very survival of the hospital.

The announcement of this transformation marks the beginning of a long-term, collaborative process. In the coming months, several workgroups — composed of clinical and administrative staff at the hospital — will share operational plans for the announced changes. Their deep knowledge and understanding of Sharon Hospital and of our community will help create a more efficient model for using space and resources at Sharon Hospital, without sacrificing patient care. We are also working with hospital leadership to create more outlets for discussion with our community through town hall forums, small group meetings, and the Sharon Hospital Transformation website.

Finally, we want to emphasize — in no uncertain terms — that the Sharon Hospital transformation has no relation to the quality of care provided at the hospital and the quality of our existing services has not changed or diminished. The medical staff at Sharon Hospital are extremely qualified, and we strongly encourage the community to continue utilizing the hospital’s services.

We are hopeful that ultimately, all of you will share our support of this plan to strengthen our community hospital into the future. It is an honor to serve as your representatives on the Sharon Hospital Board, and we look forward to further conversations in the coming weeks and months as this transformation takes effect.

Sincerely,

Rick Cantele, Board Chairman, Salisbury, CT

John Charde, MD, Lakeville, CT

Margaret Coughlan, MD, Millbrook, NY

Randall Dwenger, MD, Lakeville, CT

Pari Forood, Lakeville, CT

Hugh Hill, Kent, CT

Joel Jones, Falls Village, CT

Mehrdad Noorani,

Sharon, CT

Kathryn Palmer-House, Dover Plains, NY

James Quella, Sharon, CT

Ken Schechter,

Salisbury, CT

Mimi Tannen, Millbrook, NY

 

The community of Millerton there for each other when it counts

On Saturday, Nov. 6th, two families were displaced from their homes due to a devastating fire that destroyed one home and caused damage to another. The most heartbreaking and unimaginable happened too: two people lost their lives.

That day, we saw the brave teamwork of the Millerton Fire Company, led by Chief Jason Watson, mobilize local fire departments to combat the fire and organize the logistics of other agencies called to the scene in various capacities. They all had a common goal — the safety of the families affected by the fire and the wellbeing of the entire community.

We send our heartfelt gratitude and deep appreciation to all of the agencies and volunteers involved, including but by no means limited to: The North East Fire District (which includes the Millerton Fire Company and Auxiliary) as well as the surrounding fire companies that came to our aid that day; the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, North East Community Center, County Executive Marcus Molinaro and the Dutchess County Emergency Response Team, Town of North East Supervisor Chris Kennan, Village Clerk Kelly Kilmer and everyone who supplied food and reached out offering assistance to the families.

The community came together that day and continues to offer support and assistance to all affected by this tragic event.

We are so thankful to live in an area with caring and compassionate people.

It truly takes a village.

Jenn Najdek,
Mayor

Millerton

Alicia Sartori, Deputy Mayor

Millerton

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