City leaders cheered the demise of a plan Friday that would have erected a new hospital in Farmington that might have undercut Bristol Hospital.
The proposed $500 million replacement for the University of Connecticut’s John Dempsey Hospital "would have clobbered Bristol Hospital," said state Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat.
“The last thing Bristol needs is to lose its hospital,” said state Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat.
Critics of the joint plan by UConn and Hartford Hospital said a new hospital would be too expensive and would likely draw some patients away from Bristol.
Bristol Hospital President Kurt Barwis said, “My concern is the direct impact on Bristol.”
Colapietro said that in a Democratic caucus Thursday "probably 85 percent" of the lawmakers said they opposed spending even $5 million on the project.
"It's dead," Colapietro said.
Barwis said that while the plan is dead for this year, it could always return.
“I don’t think that this is going to go away,” Barwis said.
State Rep. Bill Hamzy, a Plymouth Republican whose district includes northwestern Bristol, said he’s pleased the plan died.
But, he said, “we can’t maintain the status quo over at UConn. We have to come up with a plan that’s mutually beneficial to the other hospitals in the area.”
“It’s almost like this plan had to fail in order to get people focused on a better plan. So we just go from there,” Hamzy said.
Hamzy said it’s important now to “switch gears and come up with a plan” that works for everyone.
“We have to do it,” Hamzy said. “It’s not going to be easy.”
Nicastro said the wide opposition in the Senate doomed this year’s plan. He said many legislators come from areas served by community hospitals and they were concerned about the impact statewide.
“It was way too much money,” Nicastro said. “This is just not the time to even consider that.”
Colapietro said the decision will surely shock the university's backers.
"They are used to running roughshod over the legislature," Colapietro said. "But now we have a new generation" that's more skeptical of its big money requests, he said.
“We don’t have that kind of money. We’re fighting to stay afloat,” Nicastro said.
Barwis said there hasn’t been a serious look at the cost of the proposal on health care or on community hospitals in the region.
He said that Bristol’s legislators really came through.
“I can’t say enough about our local delegation. Sen. Colapietro and all of our local delegation have been absolutely phenomenal,” Barwis said.
Colapietro “stayed solid with us” and helped ensure the demise of the UConn hospital plan, Barwis said.
Nicastro said that promoters of the project sealed its fate because the way they pushed it “was wrong” and counterproductive.
Barwis said he agrees the medical school needs more support and expressed the hope that a new hospital could be built in Hartford instead, a city that needs a jolt of development.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
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