Hospital's ICU may soon be closed
Another important piece to the puzzle that made New Milford Hospital what it once was may soon be history.
The hospital's intensive care unit may close within the next year.
Hospital officials explain the move would be made to focus more on primary care.
"This is part of a bigger picture," said Dr. Thomas Koobatian, New Milford Hospital's executive director and chief of staff. "We have to direct our services to better serve our population."
When Danbury and New Milford hospitals merged in 2010 to form the network -- which Norwalk Hospital has since joined -- officials began examining the best ways to use services and resources, Koobatian said.
New Milford's ICU averages two patients a day, Koobatian said, so network officials feel it doesn't seem worthwhile to dedicate a full staff and equipment to the department when those patients could be cared for either at Danbury Hospital or by one of the other departments in New Milford.
"A community hospital cannot support that highly specialized model of care," Koobatian said. "The numbers just aren't there."
Danbury Hospital is larger and has more resources to dedicate to the acutely ill patients seen in an ICU, he said.
Danbury Hospital's ICU sees 12 to 15 patients a day.
Danbury should easily be able to absorb New Milford's ICU patients, said Daniel J. DeBarba, executive vice president of Western Connecticut Health Network and president of Danbury and New Milford hospitals.
If the state were to approve the application, Koobatian said, New Milford's ICU could be eliminated within the next year.
Both Koobatian and DeBarba said they see the redistribution of ICU services as part of New Milford Hospital's new focus on primary care.
They said the hospital is seeking to eventually add a primary care hub to the space now used by the emergency department, which would move to a new building now under construction and expected to open in May.
This would join existing services at the hospital, including its Diebold Regional Cancer Center, surgery and inpatient care.
"We want to provide really good care," DeBarba said, "and we want to improve the health of the people we serve."
Network hospitals aren't the only ones in the region experiencing changes.
Earlier this year, Yale-New Haven Hospital announced it would set up a 24-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit at struggling Milford Hospital. The arrangement was intended to increase business for Milford Hospital, allowing it to remain independent.
Some planned partnerships and collaborations haven't gone smoothly.
Last week, Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. withdrew its applications to buy five hospitals in Connecticut, including Waterbury and St. Mary's hospitals.
"In this new health care landscape," Sharp said, "Connecticut hospitals are finding innovative solutions to integrate and coordinate care to better serve patients and communities."
"Hospitals' thoughtful and measured decisions are intended to improve patient care, quality and access," she added, "and ensure patients receive the right care at the right time, in the right setting, and in the right way."