Gov. Dannel P. Malloy expressed doubt this week that Tenet, the Texas-based for-profit hospital chain that had planned to purchase up to four struggling hospitals in the state, would be coming back to the table.
“Tenet has said very clearly that they don’t intend to be in the state of Connecticut,” Malloy said earlier this week at an unrelated press conference. “I think a fairly clear sign of that was when they withdrew their application.”
On Dec. 11, Tenet Healthcare Corporation withdrew its plans to purchase Waterbury Hospital, Saint Mary’s Hospital, Bristol Hospital, and two hospitals in the Eastern Connecticut Health Network.
The company said the regulations the state planned to impose would make it impossible to run the hospitals.
“The approach to regulatory oversight in Connecticut would not enable Tenet to operate the hospitals successfully for the benefit of all stakeholders,” the company said in a press release.
Malloy said he doesn’t expect Tenet to come back to the negotiating table to try and hammer out a deal, even though he believes a deal could have been reached if they had stayed at the table.
“When you withdraw your application that does away with your ability to handle that issue,” Malloy said. “The legislation may make it difficult; withdrawing your application makes it impossible.”
Republican lawmakers including Senate Leader Len Fasano have kept the lines of communication with Tenet open. Fasano said he’s spoken with Harold “Trip” Pilgrim, senior vice president of development at Tenet Healthcare Corp., since the company withdrew its application with state regulators at the Office of Health Care Access.
It’s unclear whether those conversations will be fruitful.
“I don’t believe they have any intent to proceed with a transaction in Connecticut,” Malloy said. “We’re not going to chase ourselves around here.”
Meanwhile, a coalition of labor unions and community leaders in Waterbury are calling for the creation of a “blue ribbon commission” to discuss what steps can be taken to save the cash-strapped Waterbury Hospital.
One of the solutions the group pitched was forming an alliance with the University of Connecticut Health Center, the only publicly-funded hospital in the state.
“There are a number of reasons that affiliating with the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington has some opportunities,” Andrea Young of Community United said. “It is a teaching hospital, it is not located too far from us, and has a non-profit mission.”
But since it is publicly-funded, the state, which is facing a $1.3 billion deficit in the next year, would be responsible for capital investments. Already this year, Malloy cut $1.348 million from the health center as part of his mid-year budget rescissions.
Waterbury Hospital President and CEO Darlene Stromstad said the time for studying and talking about the issue is done. She said action is needed in order to protect and strengthen the healthcare resources.
“While these groups may want to keep talking about this and proposing alternatives, our hospital finances continue to deteriorate and place the long-term viability of this organization in jeopardy,” Stromstad said. “It was clear to our board, medical staff, employees, mayor, and the Greater Waterbury legislative delegation that the best opportunity for our hospital and our community was the Joint Venture with Tenet Healthcare. They brought major investment, innovation, and expertise to our region and this state to not only adapt to but thrive in the new world of healthcare reform.”