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CASE recommends new hospital, partnership

by Kristina Goodnough - March 24, 2008


The Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) issued its report to the state legislature March 18 on the Health Center’s clinical facility needs.

To support excellence in academic medicine, CASE suggested that a new hospital be constructed on the Health Center’s campus.

It could be built and operated by the University alone, or in partnership with one or more regional hospitals. CASE recommended the latter as its preferred option.

The report was prepared at the direction of the General Assembly, in response to UConn’s proposal to replace the aging John Dempsey Hospital with a new, 352-bed hospital.

The CASE report concluded that John Dempsey Hospital is outdated and too small, and the cost to revitalize the current facility as a hospital cannot be justified.

The report also acknowledged that the existing hospital cannot accommodate private inpatient rooms, which is the current standard of care, without reducing the total bed count and increasing inefficiencies.

Reacting to the release of the study, University President Michael J. Hogan said, “The report supports our ongoing efforts to engage the area hospitals in conversations to define common ground and shared interests. We are greatly advantaged by having Drs. Rowe and Burrow, with their vast knowledge and experience in medical education, research, and clinical care, participate directly in these discussions.

“We envision our next steps as an effort to formalize the discussions that have happened to date,” he added.

“Area hospitals will have the opportunity to come forward and suggest ways in which a new, state-of-the-art hospital can be constructed and financed on our Farmington campus.

“The report makes me feel like I have an army behind me,” he added.

According to the report, formalizing and strengthening relationships with clinical care partners, coupled with construction of new clinical facilities on the Health Center campus, “provides the Health Center with the opportunity to strengthen undergraduate and graduate medical education, grow research opportunities, and continue to provide high-level clinical care.”

The report details the Health Center’s significant contribution to the region’s economy and underscores its untapped economic potential for the region and state: “Growing the UConn Health Center is, simply stated, a smart investment.”

Hogan was pleased that the report recognized the unique contributions of an academic health center, and the opportunity for the UConn Health Center to become a leading academic and research center.

University President Michael J. Hogan, left foreground, and Dr. Myron Genel, vice president of CASE and professor emeritus of Yale University School of Medicine.
University President Michael J. Hogan, left foreground, and Dr. Myron Genel, vice president of CASE and professor emeritus of Yale University School of Medicine, discuss the Academy’s recommendations with reporters after the study was presented to the state legislature March 18.
Photo by Carolyn Pennington

“The report makes clear that a flourishing UConn Health Center, working in partnership with the area hospitals, can elevate the quality of health care for the region,” he said, “enabling it to become a recognized center for health care excellence.”

He said that any partnership with one or more hospitals would have to support UConn’s commitment to quality and innovative education and research and protect its relationship with its employees.

Peter Deckers, dean of the school of medicine and executive vice president for health affairs, described the report as positive.

“It recognizes the very important role the Health Center plays, not only in the health care fabric, but also in the economic fabric of this region and our state,” he said, “and the study’s recommendations are designed to increase that role.”

The study also states that the Health Center cannot continue as it is.

“Continuation of the status quo – no change in existing relationships and no new or renovated facilities – jeopardizes the General Assembly goal of the Health Center achieving excellence in academic medicine and is not in the best interests of the state.”

An “aggressive timetable” is recommended in the report, giving UConn and area hospitals two months to develop a vision for establishing partnership agreements.

An additional six months is suggested to formalize the plan and set it in motion. The committee also recommended that the legislature appoint an independent monitor to report on progress.

“We do not envision this is going to be an easy process,” says study committee chairman Dr. Myron Genel, vice president of the Academy and professor emeritus of Yale University School of Medicine.

"To get this done correctly in an eight-month time frame is going to be a challenge, but we think the possibilities are significant for everyone involved.”

The report is available at www.ctcase.org

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