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Sharon Hospital President Christina McCulloch during a Sept. 8 community meeting. Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

Sharon Hospital roundtable draws handful

“We have to adapt. It’s not the same health-care landscape as a few years ago.” —Sharon Hospital President Christina McCulloch

NORTH CANAAN — At a “community roundtable” meeting with Sharon Hospital President Christina McCulloch, held at Geer Village in North Canaan on Thursday, Sept. 8, two reporters and one citizen, plus a handful of others connected to either the hospital or Geer,  showed up to hear McCulloch and Dr. Mark Marshall speak about plans for the hospital.

Addressing the big question — “Is the labor and delivery unit going to close? —McCulloch said the matter is pending before the state Office of Health Strategies, and she expects a public hearing to be scheduled before the end of the year.

If labor and delivery is closed, McCulloch said the hospital’s intention is to “keep everything else” pertaining to women’s health services.

The hospital is also seeking approval to merge its intensive care unit and medical/surgical unit into a single progressive care unit. This will allow for more efficient use of staff and physical space.

McCulloch said the hospital continues to work on recruitment. A new primary care physician, Dr. Jonathon Joseph, started this week, and the hospital is looking for two midlevel practitioners (physician’s assistant and/or nurse practitioner).

The lone member of the public attending asked what percentage of Sharon Hospital patients are transferred to other facilities.

McCulloch said the Sharon emergency department is very good at stabilizing patients.

“We’re very good at triaging and transferring when necessary.”

Marshall said the percentage of transferred patients is “small but not insignificant.”

McCulloch was asked if closing labor and delivery is an economic decision. She said yes, and pointed to the aging population of Northwest Corner and nearby New York towns as part of the reason the labor and delivery unit is not economically viable.

She was then asked what happens if someone has a pregnancy-related emergency.

McCulloch said the hospital will be prepared to provide “safe care.” She added that Sharon Hospital is not able to do heart surgery, but the ED can treat, stabilize and transfer patients effectively.

“We have to adapt,” she said. “It’s not the same health-care landscape as a few years ago.”

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