University officials are reviewing proposals from area hospitals to form affiliations with the Health Center to update its clinical facilities and strengthen its education and research programs.
Four proposals were submitted Aug. 1 in response to a solicitation of interest the Health Center issued in June. The proposals are from Hartford Hospital and The Hospital of Central Connecticut; St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center; Connecticut Children’s Medical Center; and Bristol Hospital.
“The hospitals’ interest in partnering with the Health Center is gratifying,” says University President Michael J. Hogan.
“It highlights the significant benefits of such a partnership to quality health care in the region and to the state’s long-term economic development by attracting biomedical research funding and developing new patents, technologies, and partnerships with business and industry.”
Dr. John W. Rowe, chairman of the Board of Trustees, says, “High quality medical and dental schools are essential to educate the next generation of doctors and dentists and to attract and retain high quality healthcare professionals in our state.”
Evaluating the proposals is a top priority for Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, the Health Center’s new vice president for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.
In seeking collaborations, the University is adhering to the process set out in legislation enacted during the 2008 legislative session and signed by the governor. The two-step process was originally recommended by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) in a report to the General Assembly last March.
In the first phase, the Health Center and the regional hospitals developed a mutual vision for establishing affiliation agreements.
In the second phase, one or more hospitals would propose an affiliation agreement that would improve clinical care in the region and support excellence in education at UConn’s medical school. The process is being monitored by CASE, with progress reports to the General Assembly.
“This is the mid-point in a process of regional consultation that has been open, transparent, and productive,” says Hogan, noting the good relationships the process is developing among officials of the hospitals in the area.
The review will include consultation with internal and external constituencies, including the Board of Trustees, the Health Center Board of Directors, and Health Center leaders, faculty, and staff.
“Our hope is to go as far as possible to harmonize all viable proposals into a regional healthcare system that benefits each partner, provides the highest quality healthcare, and serves as an economic engine for the region and state,” Hogan said.
CASE envisioned something similar in its report. While not ruling out new or renovated facilities at the Health Center, it clearly thought the best alternative was a regional relationship between UConn’s hospital and one or more regional affiliates.
Such a course, according to CASE, would serve the state’s best interests and “the General Assembly’s goal of the Health Center achieving excellence in academic medicine.”