Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday an $864 million plan to revamp the University of Connecticut Health Center and John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington.
Malloy’s proposal stressed the importance of using the renovations to the hospital to make Connecticut a new leader in the bioscience industry, helping generate more jobs in Connecticut.
“It’s not just a medical and dental school or just a hospital – we have to think about the campus in its entirety and its potential to help Connecticut become a leader in a bioscience economy,” Malloy said in a press release.
The plan includes 3,000 construction jobs starting in 2012 until 2018 and is expected to bring in an additional $4.6 billion in personal income by 2037 with the creation of 16,400 jobs.
“In addition, the way in which this proposal is structured will ensure that we’re not waiting 5, 10, or 15 years to see a return on our investment – construction jobs will be created as soon as the new tower and parking facility will be built, an expanded medical and dental school class will follow that, and further economic growth and public health innovation will continue,” Malloy said.
Malloy is using Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s $362 million proposal, approved by the state legislature last year, as a launching pad for his plan.
Building on Rell’s previous plan Malloy intends to increase the number of students enrolled in UCHC’s dental and medical school by 30 percent and install a loan forgiveness program to appeal to graduates.
Malloy’s plans also includes building a new patient tower and a new ambulatory care facility, along with renovations to research facilities, increasing not only jobs, but also the number of UCHC primary and specialty care clinicians.
“A renovated, expanded UConn Health Center is something I think is critical to the economic revival of central Connecticut, and it would clearly benefit the state from a public health standpoint and from an education standpoint,” said Malloy.
“Governor Malloy and I share the belief that Connecticut’s universities and colleges should serve as economic drivers, fueling job growth and innovation in the industry sectors key to our long-term prosperity,” said Commissioner Smith in a press release.
With Ohio State University receiving the $100 million federal hospital construction grant once assumed to be allocated to Connecticut, Malloy had to search elsewhere for financing.
“It’s the type of investment we need to fight for,” said Malloy.
In Malloy’s proposal funding will come from a mixture of private financing, previously approved bonds, new bonding, and UConn Health Center resources.
Ben Barnes, Malloy’s budget director, said Tuesday that the ambulatory care facility will be built with approximately $200 million in private donations, while the rest of the improvements will be made with the school’s capital fund.
“We are at a critical crossroads in Connecticut’s future. We can improve our infrastructure and support the mission of this medical center or we can continue to lose jobs,” Sen. President Donald E. Williams, Jr. said Tuesday afternoon. “Governor Malloy’s vision for the UConn Medical Center will not only create thousands of jobs in Central Connecticut, it will help create a world-class research and technology triangle, comprising New Haven, Storrs, and Farmington.”
Williams recently announced a plan for a research and technology park at the UConn Storrs campus to be located in the North Campus.
“The exciting project at the UConn Medical Center, along with the research and technology park at Storrs, is exactly what Connecticut needs to start growing our economy and providing more opportunities for families,” Williams said. “I look forward to working with Governor Malloy and my colleagues in the General Assembly to move this project forward.”
While there was support amongst members of his own party for the proposal, Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy was critical of the investment.
“To subsidize a public hospital at a time where hospitals are struggling to meet their obligations, would adversely alter the delivery of health care in the greater Hartford and Farmington Valley area,” Healy said in a statement.
Some lawmakers feel any investment in the UConn Health Center will hinder or limit investments at the privately owned and operated Saint Francis and Hartford Hospitals.