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Skeptical questions at Sharon Hospital presentation Nov. 9

SHARON — Sharon Hospital president Mark Hirko faced an audience of skeptical questioners at Sharon Town Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

In-person attendance at the meeting was limited due to COVID-19 protocols. The meeting can be viewed on YouTube (titled Sharon Hospital Community Roundtable Discussion, November 9, 2021 or youtu.be/afm74DAxQhg).

Hirko opened by giving a quick version of the presentation the hospital has been making since September.

He emphasized that by closing the labor and delivery unit, which he said is underutilized and loses money, the hospital will be able to grow in other areas, including primary care, internal medicine and behavioral health.

And he said the hospital currently only uses 40% of its space. A reconfiguring of the hospital, minus labor and delivery, will help with improving and expanding other services.

Hirko said, among other problems, maintaining proper staffing for a labor and delivery unit is not feasible when the unit is only handling 200 or so births per year.

One person asked why Nuvance, the parent company of Sharon Hospital, can’t make up financial losses in labor and delivery somewhere else.

Another wondered if the financial projections were accurate.

One questioner asked, “When does it stop being a real hospital?”

Another said that requiring patients to travel farther distances, especially in winter, will result in accidents.

“You’re going to kill somebody.”

Throughout, Hirko urged the audience to think in terms of the overall Nuvance system, and sought to reassure people that services such as the emergency department will not change.

He described the decision to close labor and delivery as “difficult.”

“It was not taken lightly.”

The meeting ran about one hour 40 minutes.

The next such meeting is Thursday, Nov. 18, 4 to 5:30 p.m., at the Interlaken Inn in Lakeville.

To register, email SharonHospital@NuvanceHealth.org or call 845-554-1734

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