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Connecticut denies Sharon Hospital's request to close maternity unit

Sharon Hospital's request to close its maternity unit was denied Monday by state lawmakers. The group that owns the hospital has until Sept. 18th to appeal.
Nuvance Health
Sharon Hospital's request to close its maternity unit was denied Monday by state lawmakers. The group that owns the hospital has until Sept. 18 to appeal.

Connecticut's Office of Health Strategy proposed to deny a request by Sharon Hospital, which is among the only healthcare facilities serving rural western areas of the state, to close its labor and delivery unit.

The health group that owns the hospital, Nuvance Health, has until Sept. 18 to appeal the state’s decision.

The health group filed a request to close the birthing unit to better sustain the hospital, citing a lack of births within the rural area.

On Monday, the state Office of Health Strategy wants to instead require the hospital unit to keep its doors open to those who need the service. The lawmakers said the hospital had failed to provide proper documentation showing that the closure would improve quality and access to affordable healthcare. The move was supported by state Attorney General William Tong and other elected officials.

The Connecticut Health Association, a hospital and healthcare advocacy group, stepped in Wednesday to defend the hospital.

In a statement, the association argued the facility is facing a series of challenges that lawmakers aren’t recognizing: staffing shortages, decreases in births and skyrocketing temporary worker costs.

To offset these issues, they said the hospital needs to close its delivery doors in order to keep the rest of its healthcare at high quality.

“Turning a blind eye to the issues that threaten hospitals’ ability to sustain exceptional care… will not increase the affordability or accessibility of care for patients,” a spokesperson for the association said.

Eda Uzunlar (she/her) is a reporter for WSHU.