While we admire the resolve of Southington residents who are trying to save their hospital, the reality is that Bradley Memorial’s future as a general hospital may be coming to an end. The trends in health-care delivery appear to be weighing against keeping the place (a campus of the Hospital of Central Connecticut) in operation as before.
Officials of Hartford HealthCare, which owns Bradley, say they are committed to providing health care in Southington, but that's very different from saying there's a commitment to keeping Bradley open as a hospital or anything else.
Garry Havican, president of the Hospital of Central Connecticut, says inpatient numbers at Bradley are down to four a day, an insupportable number, and that it doesn't make financial sense to prop up the aging building. And plans being considered by HHC include razing Bradley (the building is about 100 years old) and replacing it.
But Southington residents including Bonnie Sica, a spokeswoman for the Community Committee to Save Bradley, charge that HHC has systematically reduced Bradley's capabilities to the point where it isn't sustainable.
The Town Council recently passed a resolution in support of maintaining medical services at the Bradley site, but not without debate and disagreement among councilors.
Medical care has evolved, and a stand-alone emergency room that’s not part of a larger hospital, with sophisticated equipment and round-the-clock availability of a range of specialists, is of limited value.
The bitterness of this controversy in Southington reminds us of the struggle by some Meriden residents, in the 1990s, to keep World War II Veterans’ Memorial Hospital alive in the face of efforts to merge it with the former Meriden-Wallingford Hospital into something called Veterans Memorial Medical Center. But, in the face of modern trends in medical care, it became clear that Meriden wasn’t big enough to support two hospitals. A new hospital was built, called MidState Medical Center, and the former World War II site was put to other health-care uses.
As we said in a previous editorial, Hartford HealthCare would do well to be as forthcoming and direct as possible about its plans for the Bradley site. But even so, not everyone will accept the fact that time may have passed Bradley Memorial by.