The city needs to create a community task force to help ensure Bristol Hospital’s long-term success, said Republican mayoral hopeful Mary Alford.
“A community task force needs to be established now,” Alford said Tuesday. “There is no time to waste. Hopefully, this is in the works at City Hall.”
“Our strategy needs to create a head wind to proponents of the UConn plan, as they will likely be doing the same. A best defense is a strong offense; we need a plan and we need it now,” she said.
But Mayor Art Ward, a first-term Democrat who is seeking reelection, said there’s no need for a task force.
“We work very well with the hospital” already, Ward said.
The mayor said there are many “direct links” between the city government and the hospital, including his own position on the development board of the hospital.
Bristol Hospital dodged a bullet this year when the legislature rejected funding a plan to create a new $500 million hospital to replace the aging John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington.
The University of Connecticut and Hartford Hospital, working in conjunction, sought the project as a way of ensuring the university’s medical school could thrive while preventing the annual deficits racked up by the existing hospital.
Bristol Hospital executives lobbied hard to defeat the proposal, claiming it would snatch away some of its patients and leave it with a poorer, smaller pool to draw from, which could endanger its viability.
The city’s entire legislative delegation opposed the UConn plan, which died in the Senate last week.
But state Rep. Bill Hamzy, a Plymouth Republican whose 78th District includes a portion of Bristol, said he’s sure the issue will return to the table next year because the state can’t afford to continue subsidizing UConn’s hospital.
Hamzy said he would gladly serve on a panel to help figure out how to tackle the problem in a way that would treat other hospitals, including Bristol’s, more fairly.
Alford said the Senate’s decision to kill the plan this year means Bristol Hospital “survived a challenge to its existence.”
The plan “could have a serious impact on community health needs as well as employment in Bristol,” she said, and deserves close scrutiny.
Ward said the community is already fighting to help Bristol Hospital.
“There’s a certain redundancy” to creating a task force to focus on the issue when it’s already a key plank in the city’s agenda, the mayor said.
Ward said the hospital can already count on the support of every segment of the community.
The election is Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at email@example.com