Letters to the Editor - The Lakeville Journal - 11-10-22

Sharon Hospital L & D necessary

This letter is in response to the letter written by Dr.Leroy Nickles of Sharon Hospital, which was published Oct. 27 in this newspaper. Dr. Nickles writes: “Sharon Hospital can handle emergency situations, including those surrounding pregnant women and babies in the community. That is “All Good and Well”, but Dr. Nickles fails to mention all the women who are not in an emergency situation yet! When these women feel the labor of their child’s birth,   most often their husband, a family member or a friend will drive them to the Hospital, which might take approximately 20 minutes.

If the maternity department closes, these non-emergency deliveries might become an emergency for the expectant mother as well as for the baby, if they have to travel longer than here to fore. And, don’t forget: these women are not in an ambulance; they are driven most likely by a non-medical individual.

This is a profound reason why so many people are against the closure of the maternity department at Sharon Hospital. In addition, I would like to mention that many of us older people are jubilant about the influx of young families in this beautiful, active and deeply alive community.                                                         

Mieke Armstrong



Difficult decisions for the hospital

As the Chair of Primary Care at Nuvance Health, I spearhead and participate in the ongoing conversations with Sharon Hospital leadership, community physicians, and the volunteer board regarding our commitment to expand access to primary care across Sharon Hospital’s service area. I am writing today in support of the Sharon Hospital Transformation Plan, including the proposed closure of the Labor & Delivery department.

I understand better than most the weight that goes into a decision such as this. With my years of experience in healthcare, particularly in primary care with a board certification in family medicine, I recognize the importance of supporting women throughout the duration of their lifespan. However, we must also recognize that a rural hospital like Sharon Hospital needs to adapt as healthcare evolves.

Prior to joining Nuvance Health, I worked in rural Iowa where Labor & Delivery and ICU patients were always referred to tertiary care centers. I saw first-hand Labor & Delivery patients safely and successfully transferred to hospitals within driving distance, where mothers and babies were still guaranteed high-quality care.

Sharon Hospital’s proposed transformation plan is focused on strengthening the services that data shows are needed most across the region. Closing Labor & Delivery is a difficult but necessary decision that will allow us to invest in other services to help the hospital remain strong in serving our community. The Sharon community is changing while healthcare delivery is evolving. It is imperative that we expand access to primary and specialty care across the region for our patients, and we can only do this if Sharon Hospital is sustainable for the future.

As my team works to support the transformation plan and focus on growing primary care in a rural market, we must be creative to attract new talent to the area to build and maintain a strong primary care infrastructure for the future. Our local recruitment committee has left no stone unturned in our recruitment efforts, most recently spearheading Sharon Hospital specific recruitment video featuring local actors and trusted Sharon Hospital physicians. As a result of these myriad efforts, we’ve welcomed new, skilled clinicians to our primary care team — proof of our commitment to the growth-based aspects of the transformation plan.

I’m confident that Sharon Hospital’s transformation plan will allow us to devote more time and resources to continuing the expansion of primary and specialty care services that are currently needed in our community. This plan will keep Sharon Hospital strong, ultimately creating a healthier region.

Cornelius Ferreira, MD

Chair, Primary Care at Nuvance Health



Full service hospital needed in NW Corner

In a recent Sharon Hospital evaluation, an emergency room patient reported, “I wish there had been a surgeon who could have treated me. The hospital I was transported to was a nightmare.” This candid answer is not unusual. More and more emergency room patients are being transferred due to limited surgical coverage.

When Nuvance was formed in 2019, the Certificate of Need (CON) signed with the state of Connecticut required Sharon Hospital to maintain all essential services for five years until April 1, 2024. Last year, Nuvance announced its plans to shut down maternity and scale back the intensive care unit (ICU), and in February of this year the ICU was closed for six days. Both maternity and ICU are contractually obligated to remain open. Fortunately, the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy (OHS) has opened an investigation into Nuvance’s adherence to the CON. The public hearing to determine whether Nuvance can close maternity has been rescheduled for December 6, and Nuvance has applied to reduce the ICU to a “progressive care unit.”

When I came here 40 years ago, there were four full-time general surgeons in private practice. About 20 years ago, after Sharon Hospital was sold to a private equity firm, there were two general surgeons providing 24-7 coverage with temporary contractor backup. Since 2018, five primary care doctors have left the service area. There has been a 28% reduction in inpatient surgical volume. Then this past May, Nuvance terminated the contract of a Sharon Hospital surgeon leaving only one full-time general surgeon. Evidently, the plan was to use temporary contractors to cover.

Unfortunately, since May, there have been many three-day weekends and other without general surgery coverage here. In October, the operating room schedule was blank 39% of the time. When a surgeon is not available, surgical patients have to be transferred to Vassar Hospital, Danbury Hospital, or other hospitals. About 40 patients are transferred from Sharon Hospital to other hospitals every month, but not all of these are surgical cases. This has led to a sizable reduction in hospital revenue and a decrease in essential services to the community.

Recently, an attempt to transfer a patient was unsuccessful because no beds were available in Poughkeepsie or Danbury. The patient was kept overnight and surgery was performed at Sharon Hospital. Fortunately, this patient did well. What will happen in inclement weather or when there is no time to transfer a patient, if a surgeon is not on call? Most patients and their families want to be treated here. Why do they have to experience the extra anguish of transportation and treatment at a remote facility? Not to mention, transporting patients is an expensive burden on the ambulance services.

The Northwest Corner needs a full-service community hospital. Recruiting another general surgeon and more primary care doctors would be a necessary step in the right direction.

David R. Kurish, MD



One definition of what is “mine”

“What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is my own.”

— James Joyce


In 2020, the White House, our nation’s house, was commandeered by Trump as campaign headquarters for his failed election. Trump gave his Republican Convention Speech from the White House bringing him vibrant criticism from government ethic watch dogs along with South Dakota’s tall and, until of late, well respected Senator John Thune, Republican minority whip.

Trump purchased in 2013 the old D.C. Post Office, converting it to a luxury hotel from which Trump and his organization made substantial profits during his term of office — raising Emoluments Clause violation issues. He filled the expensive postal property with Saudi officials, other foreign visitors doing U.S. and Trump Organization business along with Secret Service agents paying $1000 a night for housing. From 2016 to 2020, Emolument Clause along with Hatch Act violations couldn’t be seriously progressed amidst a fleet of other Trump legal violations/abnormalities, international exploitations.

In 2021 and 2022, Trump markedly expanded using his presidency for personal aggrandizement by collecting government records including top secret confidential files for his personal scrapbooks, social splash bric-a-brac. Trump likes to gather memories and brag, so according to him, his access to confidential U.S. files as POTUS mutated to his ownership of them — “They are mine.”

Unequivocally, he asserts whatever he would have had to do to declassify documents, he did — regardless that classification is not the legal issue at hand — possession is. Official documents are specified for the National Archives’ secure storage not an easily accessed resort basement storage room — lacking security, lacking organization, lacking legality, lacking sense.

What else has, might Trump metamorphosis from US documents, monuments, objects to “mine” — Trump’s. If a masterpiece from the National Gallery or Smithsonian is loaned to him as president for a term in the White House, is this art loan then his to be packed and taken along when he leaves office? Does 45 recognize any boundaries to what is “mine”: Judicial powers, legislative powers, prosecutorial powers,“my justices”, “my generals”, “my nuclear weapons.”

If Trump runs again for president and if he is elected, will he convert national treasures to Trump treasures?  Might the Trump Organiztion, should it survive until 2024, convert Mt. Vernon to a luxury rental for foreign dignitaries — a handsome, private locale for MBS when he is in D.C.  If Trump is president, is Mt. Vernon “mine”, are the Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington Memorials, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island “mine”, can they be converted to commercial Trump spaces, diminished to political servitude?

“They are mine,” 45’s proclamation balances with his “never me.” He is never accountable, he is never subject to legality, laws, order. He screams he can stand on 5th Avenue, kill a person and it is “never me.”  “Lock her up,” a favorite Trump rally cry for women: Hillary, Gretchen, Pelosi, is never chanted for him nor his cadre of felons with commuted sentences, like Flynn, Stone, Bannon, many more.  Trump ‘s closest allies are convicted felons. Can they vote?

Kathy Herald-Marlowe



Clothing drive thanks community

On behalf of the parishioners of All Saints of America Orthodox Church, I would like to express our appreciation to the local community for supporting our recent clothing give away. Thank you to The Lakeville Journal, to Moore and More Printing, and to WQQQ radio for their help with publicity.

Thanks to Montage in Millerton, the transfer stations of Salisbury, Sharon and Cornwall, St. John’s Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ in Cornwall for helping with collecting. We send a special thanks to Salisbury School and Hotchkiss for their donations of clothing.

Lastly, thank you to the generous people in our community. Thousands of items were collected and all leftover clothing was given to local nursing homes, and shelters. We feel so blessed to be able to help others and to be part of such a caring community.

Hope Mongeau
Church Council Member



Those veterans, complex realities

Many folks who know what we do at The Equus Effect introduce me as the person who works with horses and veterans with PTSD. While it is easy to categorize people with diagnoses, as usual, the reality is far more complex.

For the most part, veterans’ real desire is to come home, reconnect with their friends and families, feel comfortable in their own skin and find meaning and purpose in life. For some however, this is way easier said than done.

Some say they’d prefer to go back into combat, but in our experience, this is more a matter of missing the esprit de corps and mission-driven focus than some “addiction” to adrenaline. I would also say that the feelings of depression, isolation and anxiety in the veterans we see are not hallmarks of a psychological “disorder” but rather ones borne out of the transition from one culture to another.

One culture is highly structured and exists to serve a higher purpose. Many who come home find civilian life more driven by self interest and personal gain where people sometimes say one thing and do another. This is not 100% true, but it is certainly not untrue. They also have trouble finding careers or jobs that value the skills they have honed in the military.

There aren’t many professions that require lethal force. Moral injury is another issue for combat vets who do and see things that go against the values with which they were raised. Many have told me that it seems okay when one is ‘in country’ with battle buddies, but the experience is entirely different when one is home — alone.

So, if you happen to encounter someone who served in the military on this Veterans Day, it’s always good to welcome them home — no matter where or when they served. Ask where they were stationed and what that place or those places were like.

They are after all, our fellow country men and women who signed a blank check to Uncle Sam and I for one, am very glad they returned.

Jane Strong

The Equus Effect



By two they came, and so they went

They were a pretty much a town fixture — not only at the Wake Robin, but also with town residents for more than a decade during long early morning walks and on Wells Hill Road.

Zeus and Hermes navigated a difficult beginning in Kentucky, where they were rescued from the same neglectful home. Why someone would mistreat two such special beings is a mystery, as is the miracle that they remained together until discovered online at their second rescue, this one in Indiana, still somehow unseparated.

Once they made it to the northeast, to Lakeville, they proved naturally ascendant as “Lords of the Manor,” as befits the Royal line of Standard Poodles, which is what they were. What is not a mystery: their unfailing social grace, quiet intelligence and gentleness, which never failed to impress and serve as a mirror of we thought to be – their loving natures putting to shame the  vanity that befalls us.

Adventure was a fixture of their long lives, and perhaps a key to their impressive longevity. They travelled thousands of miles across U.S. and Canada, navigating states and border guards with aplomb — true Lakevillians at heart in all ways.

They made it back to the Wake Robin this year — their final season.  Lakeville is where they belong, and here they will remain, their final resting on the Wake Robin’s hilltop.

Zeus, 16. Hermes, 15. By two they came — and so they went.

Shaffin Shariff

Wake Robin Inn



Hospital should provide L & D

As a physician who practiced emergency medicine at Sharon Hospital for 30 years, I read Dr. Nickles’ October 27 letter to the editor with much interest.

Dr. Nickles tries to reassure the Sharon Hospital community that the emergency department is ready to take care of all Labor & Delivery (L & D) emergencies. That is simply not possible. Let’s remember that an emergency department is not an operating room and that even the best skilled emergency physician and staff do not have the skill set of an OB/GYN and L & D specialist.

True, in some of not most circumstances, a patient can be stabilized and transferred to another hospital for further care. In my experience, however, it may take up to 40 minutes for a patient to arrive at a neighboring hospital. That is assuming that an ambulance is readily available and that the road conditions are good. That is time that a woman who has active internal bleeding as a result of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy or an unborn child who is experiencing intrauterine distress may not have. I have been in the position of taking care of those patients and I have always been grateful that an OB/GYN specialist  could arrive and get the patient(s) immediately to the operating room when needed.

Let’s remember also that Nuvance is not being asked to create a new service at Sharon Hospital. It is instead taking away a necessary, and potentially lifesaving service that has been available to the Sharon  community for nearly 100 years.

How much money does Nuvance need to save to justify a maternal death or a child that is so disabled that he or she will require specialized care for the rest of his or her existence?

I am not sure what Nuvance means when it says it is following a “growth-based Sharon Hospital Transformation Plan”, but I do know that closing the L & Ddepartment at Sharon Hospital is a terrible idea and robs the community of an essential service.

Richard A. Bennek MD

Merion Station, Pa.


Sharon L & D plan can work well

I am an RN and Quality Director at Sharon Hospital. I am writing this letter in support of Sharon Hospital’s transformative plan and urge my fellow community members to understand the facts of this plan and the benefits to our community.

I have been an RN for 30 years, and I am a longtime resident of Litchfield County. I am keenly aware of the unique challenges hospitals face, especially in terms of recruiting and retaining clinicians and staff to this area. I know that at Sharon Hospital, these issues are especially challenging.

I gave birth to my three children at New Milford Hospital, which gives me the understanding of giving birth within a rural region as both a mother and as a caregiver. I understand mothers’ concerns about when and where their birth plans will take place. However, I want to offer a different perspective to those who have brought up safety concerns with Sharon Hospital’s plans.

When New Milford Hospital phased out their labor and delivery unit in 2013, I witnessed firsthand how leadership and staff were able to make that transition effective, efficient, and most importantly, safe. In the many years since New Milford Hospital closed their Labor and Delivery unit, they have seen no emergent births, and in the event there is a patient who does present and birth is imminent, staff have received all necessary training.  Most importantly, the service lines the New Milford community needed most are thriving. I can confirm that this model can and will work for the sustainable future of a hospital.

The healthcare landscape is changing, and I understand that in order to remain part of our community and grow in the services we need most, that includes making tough decisions as it relates to areas that are underutilized. While I share in the community’s sadness around losing a service, I know that Sharon Hospital’s transformative plan was made in the interest of our patients and fully anticipate that it will lead to the enhancement of services most needed by our community.

Amy Llerena


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