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Residents pursue petitions against closing Southington hospital inpatient unit

SOUTHINGTON — Through petitions and letter campaigns, residents are trying to keep Hartford Healthcare from closing the inpatient unit at the Bradley campus of the Hospital of Central Connecticut.

Hartford Healthcare plans to close the unit, citing declining use. The state Office of Health Care Access has to approve the closure.

The Hartford HealthCare Corporation includes the Southington and New Britain campuses of the Hospital of Central Connecticut, along with MidState Medical Center in Meriden.

Anthony Ciardella, a primary care private practice doctor with an office on North Main Street, said a petition to deny Hartford Healthcare’s request to close the inpatient unit has collected hundreds of names.

“Everyone who comes to this office signs that petition,” he said.

The petition was first suggested by a friend of Ciardella. It’s been in his office for about a week.

Ciardell is also the associate Chief of Medicine at Bradley and the medical director at The Summit at Plantsville. He’s practiced in town for 31 years.

“It’s disturbing to me and the community that this seems to have to happen,” he said of the inpatient closure.

While the unit hadn’t been making money, Ciardella said it was an introduction to the hospital for many and would draw people to other services Bradley offers.

“From a business point of view, it should be a loss leader,” he said.

Ciardella was surprised how attached town residents were to Bradley.

“I don’t know if Hartford Healthcare knows about the community sentiment about this,” he said. “It’s amazing how many people are interested.”

Operating services were moved from Bradley to New Britain last year. Last month, Hartford Healthcare officials announced that labs at Plantsville Diagnostic Center, West Street Diagnostic Center and the Hospital of Central Connecticut Specimen Collection Center would close. Radiology is also no longer available at the West Street Diagnostic Center.

Town resident Amy Guerrin is trying to encourage fellow residents concerned about Bradley’s future to write letters to the Office of Health Care Access opposing the closure. Discussion of the issue on the Facebook site Southington Talks also led another woman, Beata Braginski, to start an online petition.

Guerrin said her husband has been well cared for at Bradley, where staff know him and his medical history. Traveling to Meriden or New Britain might mean getting care from staff who don’t know the Guerrins.

“Our physicians who are in town can’t care for us” at another hospital, Guerrin said.

Before merging with New Britain General, Bradley was licensed for 84 beds. It will maintain 15 inpatient beds until the state approves the unit closure.

Guerrin and Ciardella don’t have high hopes for their efforts. Ciardella said he’s been told by Hartford Healthcare officials that the closure is “set in stone.”

Guerrin hopes people realize they do have a voice and at least an outside chance to influence the state’s decision.

“I’m not necessarily all that hopeful, but I have to know I said something,” Guerrin said. (203) 317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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