The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC), better known in these parts as New Britain General, has been more than an interested bystander in the debate over the future of John Dempsey Hospital at the University of Connecticut Health Center and its possible takeover by Hartford Hospital.
Recent press reports confirm that all area hospitals are concerned about where major medical facilities will be located and what institution or combination of institutions will control them.
Current legislation to build a new John Dempsey is facing dwindling chances because of its $475 million price in a bad recession. Gov. Rell withdrew support and the Legislature is facing some daunting fiscal issues that suggest this is not the year for any new initiatives. If ever built, a new Dempsey would then become part of the Hartford Hospital system.
With everyone's eye on the state-financed hospital bill, however, there is unconfirmed but growing speculation in New Britain that New Britain General campus itself may be the takeover target of a revised Hartford Hospital plan. The New Britain Hospital, a comprehensive hospital with just over 400 beds, is minutes away from UCONN's Dempsey teaching hospital that has over 200 beds. It would be a bigger and, in some ways, more useful acquisition for teaching and the delivery of medical care under the Hartford Hospital system.
HOCC's New Britain General is one of New Britain's largest employers with deep and longstanding ties and relationships in the community. Whatever the merits of mergers and consolidations in the hospital industry, a possible loss of local control and governance may be unsettling to many residents and the health care professionals who serve them.
If the speculation turns real, the community needs to be brought into the conversation sooner rather than later.