Speaking to the city’s Democratic town committee late Monday, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Gary LeBeau said a new state hospital in Farmington is needed.
“We need to build a new UConn hospital,” said LeBeau, a state senator from East Hartford.
Bristol Hospital strongly opposes the $500 million plan to erect a new hospital at the University of Connecticut Health Center and have it operated by Hartford Hospital, fearing the expanded, updated facility would hinder its ability to attract patients.
Resident Chris Roberge said that local hospitals believe they “are getting the short end of the stick” in the plan lawmakers are considering.
But LeBeau said that constructing the new hospital is “an important part of our future” and needs to be done even if it upsets some in Bristol.
He said it would be “a major generator of jobs” through spinoff businesses that may include firms devoted to stem cell research, pharmaceuticals and other high-end enterprises that Connecticut must attract.
LeBeau, one of a handful of potential Democratic candidates in next year’s race for the state’s top job, said he is not an expert in health care issues and is willing to listen to arguments.
But, he said, the state can’t go on subsidizing the existing 224-bed John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington every year when it could be a driving force for growth instead.
“There’s a lot to be said” for the proposed partnership with Hartford Hospital, LeBeau said.
He said that UConn’s facility would have better administrative oversight with Hartford Hospital’s involvement.
Bristol Hospital and other regional hospitals that are not connected to Hartford Hospital argue that a larger, more modern facility will undermine community health care in places such as Bristol.
But supporters of the plan argue that a new hospital will help the economy and ensure that UConn can continue to attract top students and staff to its medical school.
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