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Questions for hospital on marketing, donations and stroke center

LAKEVILLE — Representatives of Sharon Hospital met again with members of the community to discuss the hospital’s plans on Thursday, Nov. 18, at the Interlaken Inn in Lakeville.

Hospital President Dr. Mark Hirko, Chief Nursing Officer Christine McCulloch and Dr. Mark Marshall were on hand with the now-familiar computer slide presentation (and paper copies distributed around the room). This is the third such presentation made to the public.

Ten members of the public attended.

Hirko skipped the slide show and went straight to questions.

Attendees wore masks and did not identify themselves.

The first question was lengthy but did touch on what became a dominant theme of the meeting: the marketing of Sharon Hospital.

The attendees had numerous observations and suggestions. They all agreed that marketing and advertising of the hospital is poor, and that more effective promotion would ultimately help the hospital’s financial situation.

There were several questions about staffing and recruiting doctors. Hirko said the way medicine is practiced today means it is unlikely the hospital will be able to recruit a (for example) neurologist who stays in town until retirement.

Rather, the goal is to have doctors within the Nuvance system rotate between hospitals.

One person suggested a way to keep the labor and delivery unit open: To solicit cash donations from the community. The questioner said the community has “deep pockets.”

Hirko said he was willing to discuss that idea but added that additional funds won’t necessarily help with the larger problems of staffing, recruiting and the demographics of the area, which skew toward older people.

One questioner was especially concerned about stroke patients. Another questioned the hospital’s claim to have lost almost $40 million over three years.

The next presentation will be on Dec. 14 at 5:30 p.m.

Send questions for the Dec. 14 forum by email to sharonhospital@nuvancehealth.org; call 845-554-1734 (leave a name and phone number); or by mail to Sharon Hospital, Attn: Community Forum, 50 Hospital Hill Road, Sharon, CT 06069.

Instructions on how to join the virtual meeting can be found at www.nuvancehealth.org/CTForums. The recorded session and a copy of the digital presentation will be accessible on the website following the event.

To request a physical copy by mail, call 845-554-1734.

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