Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Birthing center decision

Letters to the Editor
Journal Inquirer
December 20, 2010

This letter serves to clarify inaccuracies made by former Republican Town Chairman John Anderson in “Tis the (campaign) season already” (Dec. 4 letter).

Anderson claims that the decision to eliminate the birthing center at Rockville General Hospital was “put in motion by a vote in the state legislature.” This statement is false and misleading.

The decision was a business decision made by the Eastern Connecticut Health Network, the parent company of Rockville General Hospital. While many of us do not agree with that decision, it was a decision made by ECHN, not the state legislature.

The legislative vote Anderson refers to was a budget vote that included changes to streamline the certificate of need process for hospitals negotiated into the budget by Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s office in an effort to save dollars for addressing the deficit. Unfortunately, the negotiated change reduced hospital oversight, limiting the ability of the Office of Health Care Access to hold discretionary public hearings. I do not believe this was the intent of the governor’s office when this change was negotiated, and legislation has already been introduced to fix it.

Does that mean that no one read the budget bill, as Anderson implies? Of course not. Even Vernon’s long-standing senator, Tony Guglielmo, has admitted publicly that he was not aware of the change negotiated in the budget, like many of the legislators who voted for the budget package in good faith. Ironically, Mayor Jason McCoy’s own highly skilled professional lobbyist, who is paid $30,000 yearly in local taxpayer dollars to be the mayor’s eyes and ears at the state Capitol, appears to have missed the OHCA changes as well. Regardless, this is not what led to ECHN’s decision to eliminate the birthing center at Rockville General.

The reality is that it was a business decision made by the ECHN board and its CEO based on staffing and other internal hospital issues the board decided could not be resolved. As Vernon’s mayor, McCoy could have taken a leadership role to save the birthing center when ECHN first announced its intentions in September. The early intervention could have made a difference.

Claire Janowski
The writer is the state representative from the 56th District (Vernon and Rockville).