SOUTHINGTON — Dozens of residents spoke at Monday’s Town Council meeting against plans by Hartford HealthCare to close the inpatient unit at the Bradley Memorial campus of the Hospital of Central Connecticut and move the emergency room to Queen Street.
Residents packed the council chambers, filling all the chairs and lining the walls.
Speakers, who included physicians, nurses and town residents, urged the council to stop changes underway at Bradley.
Hartford HealthCare owns Bradley as well as MidState Medical Center in Meriden.
Trish Walden, vice president of Central Connecticut Senior Health Services, which is owned by Hartford Healthcare, spoke Monday about changes at Bradley.
Walden said she was a longtime Southington resident and helped start Southington Care Center, The Orchards and Mulberry Gardens.
“My role here tonight is to listen,” she said. “We are in the very early stages of planning to strengthen the health-care system in Southington.”
Walden said that the Bradley campus “is very much a part of that plan.”
“Our goal is not to close the hospital, our goal is to transform it,” she said.
Hartford Healthcare officials have said moving the emergency room will allow the network to create one that’s state-of-the-art.
The inpatient unit has experienced declining use, hospital officials said.
Speakers told councilors they are concerned about emergency response times with an emergency room on a busy road and the loss of more services at Bradley. Speakers also questioned whether the move was motivated by a desire to bring in more money for Hartford HealthCare.
Charles Cosgrove, a respiratory therapist, said he wanted to be sure the new facility would be a true emergency room.
“Is it going to be a full-service facility or is it going to be a band-aid station?” Cosgrove asked.
Rosemary Champagne said having a full-service hospital in town was reassuring to those with health problems.
“I don’t need a health spa,” Champagne said. “I need a hospital.
“The thought of going to MidState or New Britain devastates me,” she added.
Anthony Ciardella, a primary care private practice doctor with an office on North Main Street, praised the care that’s been given at Bradley.
“The personal level of care has always been unbelievable,” he said. “I will mourn the day they close the inpatient.”
A petition in Ciardella’s office has hundreds of signatures against changes at Bradley. The Hartford HealthCare plan must be approved by the state Office of Health Care Access.
Several speakers criticized the council for not alerting people to closures at the Bradley campus earlier. Council Chairman Michael Riccio said there was little communication to the council from hospital officials.
“What you read in the newspaper is what we’re hearing,” Riccio said. “Don’t be critical of us. Things are new to us.”
Councilor Dawn Miceli said she didn’t want a vacant hospital building in Southington as there is in Meriden. She called for the council to write a letter to hospital officials opposing the emergency room move.