Reproductive-services flap stalls talks




WATERBURY — Merger talks between two Waterbury hospitals and a Texas company have reached an impasse over how to offer reproductive services for women.


All parties have pledged to continue meeting, but their previously quiet negotiations spilled into public view early this month when the state's Permanent Commission on the Status of Women objected to the most recent reproductive services plan.


The overall proposal under discussion calls for Waterbury Hospital to join St. Mary's Hospital in an acquisition and merger with a private Texas company, LHP Group. The plan calls for building a new, state-of-the-art replacement hospital with 426 beds in private rooms.


On September 6, presidents from Waterbury Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital sounded exhausted and a bit frustrated.


"We've been at this now for well over 15 months. Put together, it's a long time to be working through some of the issues," said Chad Wable, president and CEO of St. Mary's Hospital.


The main stumbling block has been trying to provide reproductive services while respecting the ethical and religious directives of Catholic Health Services, which prohibit tubal ligations, vasectomies, contraceptive care and medically induced abortions. The joint venture had to be approved by the Vatican because the archdiocese owns St. Mary's Hospital.


The merger sought to address that by putting reproductive services in a separate building called the Women's Pavilion across the street from the hospital. The building would be separately licensed.


But the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women this week opposed the reproductive services plan, saying it is inadequate to serve the needs of the Waterbury area's women.


In a press release, the women's advocacy group said that "any state-of-the-art facility being built — especially with partial support from taxpayers' dollars — should represent the needs of all the residents of the area, should treat all citizens equitably, regardless of gender, religion or socio-economic standing, and should have a far more definitive plan for future financial sustainability. It is unfortunate, therefore, that the dictates of the Ethical and Religious Directives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will derail a much-needed facility."


Darlene Stromstead, President and CEO of Waterbury Hospital, said this is the seventh plan that all sides have come up with and said the process is very complicated.


"As the non-religious organization, we have been trying very hard to come up with solutions," Stromstead said. "We have consulted the Permanent Status of Women, Merger Watch and others, trying to find something that will work and will address long-term sustainability, demonstrate medical quality and provide services in a non- discriminatory manner."






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NEW HAVEN — Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) has been included among the top hospitals in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual “America’s Best Hospitals.” Of the 5,000 hospitals and nearly 10,000 specialists surveyed nationwide, only 140 hospitals were nationally ranked in more than one specialty. YNHH ranked at the national level in ten of 16 specialties surveyed.


YNHH had one specialty ranked in the nation’s top five: diabetes and endocrinology at No. 5, while psychiatry at No. 11 and gynecology (No. 13) also ranked high. YNHH is the only hospital in Connecticut to be included in the U.S. News & World Report national listings and among the highest ranked in the region.


Yale-New Haven also ranked among the best in the nation in seven additional medical specialties: cancer; heart and heart surgery, gastroenterology, geriatrics, kidney disorders, ear, nose and throat and pulmonolgy.

BRIDGEPORT — Christopher Iannuzzi, MD has been named chairman of the Department of Oncology at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. He will work with clinical and administrative leadership within the department to develop cancer services at St. Vincent’s over the next few years.


At St. Vincent’s since 2002, Iannuzzi  has served as division chief of Radiation Oncology and, since 2009, as vice chairman of the Department of Oncology. He has also served as the Cancer Liaison Physician  to the Commission on Cancer, is the current chairperson of the St. Vincent’s Cancer Committee, and  has also been an active participant serving on both the Credentials and Executive Committees of the hospital.


In 2006 Iannuzzi received the American Cancer Society Star of Hope Award recognizing his skill and compassion in caring for cancer patients. Board-certified in radiation oncology, Iannuzzi has written widely on prostate and breast cancer and has published abstracts and many peer-reviewed reports. 

NEW HAVEN — The Hospital of Saint Raphael has earned an A grade in safety from the Leapfrog Group, an organization that analyzes data on 26 separate health-care quality measures. Saint Raphael’s was the only hospital in New Haven and one of only four in the state to earn an A grade.


Leapfrog gave Saint Raphael’s top marks on indicators including stroke care, timely sepsis treatment, the reduction of central line and surgical infections and fall prevention. Consumers can see the grades at the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Score website,

BRIDGEPORT — Hematologist/oncologist Kenneth Dressler, MD has received the St. Vincent de Paul Mission Award as St. Vincent’s 2012 Physician of the Year in ceremonies held recently at Tashua Knolls in Trumbull before a gathering of physicians, administrators and guests.  The award honors the attending physician who best demonstrates the qualities exemplified by St. Vincent de Paul, one who truly lives the mission and values of the Medical Center.


Dressler, chief of St. Vincent’s Hematology/Medical Oncology Division,  received 19 nominations from fellow physicians, nurses, staff members and patients. Dressler has served as chief of hematology and medical oncology  at St. Vincent’s Medical Center since 2007. He is board-certified by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society of Hematology, and the American Board of Internal Medicine. He is a member of the American Societies of Hematology and Clinical Oncology.


DERBY — Joseph Sokol, MD, recently became the first ophthalmologist in New Haven County to perform canaloplasty surgery, an advanced, less invasive treatment for glaucoma.
“Canaloplasty uses revolutionary microcatheter technology to enlarge the eye’s natural drainage system,” Sokol explained. “It’s similar to angioplasty but for the eye.”


In the procedure, Sokol inserted a microcatheter into the eye’s drainage system canal to both enlarge and clean it out. This allowed fluid to drain from the eye much more efficiently. He then removed the microcatheter and placed a suture within the canal to keep it open. This restored the eye’s natural drainage system and lowered the pressure inside the eye.


An attending surgeon at Griffin Hospital in Derby and owner of Connecticut Eye Specialists in Shelton, Sokol received special training from iScience Interventional, the California-based company that invented the iTrack 250a microcatheter used in canaloplasty surgery.

NEW HAVEN — Connecticut women who meet income guidelines and need help providing their children with nutrient-rich foods can turn to the Hospital of Saint Raphael and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Saint Raphael’s coordinates the New Haven WIC Program, which consists of four full-time WIC offices: at Saint Raphael’s, Yale-New Haven Hospital, the Hill Health Center and the Fair Haven Community Health Center. There are also satellite offices in Branford, Hamden, Milford and West Haven.


 WIC serves infants, children up to age five and pregnant, postpartum and breast-feeding women. Applicants are evaluated for both financial need and nutritional risk, classified as a medical or diet-based condition. Financial guidelines are based on the household’s gross income and family size: A family of four with a gross annual salary of $42,643 or less is financially eligible. Those participating in programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps), Temporary Family Assistance or HUSKY A/Medicaid are automatically income-eligible. 


The New Haven WIC program is the largest in the state, serving more than 10,000 throughout the region. To learn more about the program phone 203-789-3563.

 NEW HAVEN — State Attorney General George Jepsen announced June 1 that he would not seek to block the merger of Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) and the Hospital of Saint Raphael (HSR) under the Connecticut's antitrust law.

Jepsen's office and the Federal Trade Commission had investigated whether the merger would substantially lessen competition for medical services in south-central Connecticut. Ultimately, the special situation surrounding the merger persuaded Jepsen to desist from seeking to block it.

"Based on the evidence developed during the investigation, and in light of the law applicable to these types of transactions — including taking into consideration St. Raphael's precarious financial condition and other expected efficiencies that will be realized through the acquisition — I have decided not to seek to block the merger under Connecticut's antitrust law," Jepsen said in a press statement.

Meanwhile, HSR President and  CEO Christopher O’Connor, told a June 5 public hearing that the future of his hospital hinges on successful consummation of the merger.

“The immediate viability of our hospital is at stake,” O’Connor told hearing officers from the state’s Office of Health Care Access, according to the New Haven Register.