Sharon Hospital awaits word on L&D

SHARON — The final decision on the fate of Sharon Hospital’s labor and deliver (L&D) services is expected to be handed down by the Office of Healthcare Strategy in the coming weeks.

Nuvance Health, owner of Sharon Hospital, initially submitted a Certificate of Need (CON) to close its maternity unit in January 2022. Nuvance cited a loss of $3 million annually and underutilization of the services as its key reasons for closure.

The application was denied by OHS in its proposed decision in August 2023. OHS conditionally ordered Sharon Hospital’s maternity services to remain in effect pending an appeal from Nuvance.

The decision stated that the hospital had not succeeded in providing adequate evidence of either financial or safety concerns, nor adequate plans or alternatives for women in labor.

Nuvance subsequently filed an appeal with the state. On Nov. 8, 2023, Nuvance counsel Ted Tucci presented an oral argument for the closure of Sharon Hospital’s L&D services.

“This decision threatens Sharon Hospital’s ability to continue delivering care to Northwestern Connecticut,” said Tucci.

Tucci claimed there were “four major flaws” in the proposed decision: “First, it both violates and at the same time misapplies CON statutory guidelines. Second, it violates the legal standards required for sound agency decisions. Third, review of the reliable record evidence also only supports one conclusion, and that conclusion is that the CON should be approved. Fourth, when you look at the reasons in the proposed decision for refusing to close the L&D unit, those reasons are arbitrary and unreasonable.”

Nuvance added that an annual $3 million loss in the L&D unit is unsustainable for Sharon Hospital.

“The decision says that this $3 million annual loss is ‘negligible.’ I guess that’s true when compared to the nearly $24, $25 million deficits that the hospital is running,” said Tucci. “Sharon Hospital is in crisis.”

On the issue of adequate plans or alternatives for women in labor, Nuvance proposed the women can find a new hospital.

“There are five other area hospitals that can easily absorb Sharon Hospital’s minimal volume,” said Tucci.

Concerned citizens and members of the Save Sharon Hospital group are also eagerly awaiting the final decision.

“Our community continues to require access to local, high-quality labor and delivery services. If OHS chooses to accept Nuvance’s application to close the maternity unit at Sharon Hospital in its Final Decision, there could be dire consequences. Pregnant families should not have to drive long distances on country roads to deliver a baby, especially in emergent situations. I am confident that OHS will confirm its well-researched and well thought out Proposed Final Decision, and will deny Nuvance’s application to close maternity at Sharon Hospital,” said Lydia Moore, president of Save Sharon Hospital, in a statement to The Lakeville Journal.

Moore gave birth to her daughter at Sharon Hospital in 2023. The pending decision from OHS will decide if Moore’s child was among the last babies born at the hospital.

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