SOUTHINGTON — While a surgery center housed at Bradley Memorial Hospital is leaving for Cheshire, proponents of the town’s hospital are encouraged by the addition of a home health care service at the Meriden Avenue campus.
However, the long-term future of the Hartford HealthCare-owned hospital is unclear. HHC officials said two years ago that razing and replacing the building with a new health campus was one option being considered.
While he didn’t address the future of Bradley, Hospital of Central Connecticut president Gary Havican said this week that Hartford HealthCare had moved HHC at Home to the Bradley campus.
“This means as many as another 200 additional HHC at Home staff will be on Bradley campus on any given day,” he said.
The increase in staff was welcomed by Bonnie Sica, a Southington resident and a founder of the Community Committee to Save Bradley. She and others have petitioned Hartford HealthCare to keep the hospital open and add services to the facility.
“It’s this massive move of people into that facility,” Sica said of HHC at Home. “That’s great. There’s plenty of space for a hospital and that.”
In 2014, hospital officials closed four general operating rooms at Bradley and opened Southington Surgery Center in the vacated space. The center – a joint venture by surgeons and Hartford HealthCare – is moving to a facility proposed on West Johnson Avenue in Cheshire. Last week, the Cheshire Town Council approved incentives for the project.
To open the surgery center, Hartford Healthcare requested a certificate of need from the state Office of Health Care Access. According to the certificate, Hartford Healthcare spent $1.8 million on medical equipment for the center and $2.2 million in building renovations at Bradley.
Havican said Hartford HealthCare hasn’t decided what might fill the surgery center after it moves.
“We will continue to work with our physician partners, as well as the community we serve to understand their needs and determine the best use of the vacated space,” he said.
Havican expected the center to move in April or May of next year. Cheshire offered easy highway access and a central location, he said.
According to filings with the state Department of Health, the new center will add an operating room, bringing the total to four.
Recent public support for Bradley started in 2014 when Hartford HealthCare announced it would move the emergency room to Queen Street. Opposition to the plan caused Hartford HealthCare to leave the emergency room at Bradley although it did build a medical building on Queen Street.
Sica believes the community interest has caused Hartford HealthCare “to take another look at Southington” and consider what residents want.
“We know (Bradley is) not going to be a Hartford Hospital,” she said. “That’s not what we’re asking for. But we are asking for our community hospital to remain intact.”
Sica also thinks increased competition in Southington is a factor. A Bristol Health building on Main Street opened this month.
“We have a lot of different healthcare options, and I think that Hartford HealthCare is seeing all these other groups,” she said.
‘Life at Bradley’
The Town Council has had intermittent conversations with Hartford HealthCare officials about the future of Bradley. Victoria Triano, council chairwoman, said there haven’t been any recently but she’s encouraged that employees are being added.
“I’m happy...I think there’s going to be more to come,” she said.
Triano is a consultant for Southington Care Center, which is owned by Hartford HealthCare.
She was glad that the hospital group hadn’t moved too quickly on proposals to knock the hospital down.
“I think that they were very slow, thankfully,” she said. “They could have just come in with the bulldozers but they took their time.”
Triano hoped residents would use Bradley.
“We still have a very excellent emergency room there,” she said. “I encourage all our residents, if they need to go to the emergency room, go to Bradley first.”