Backus and Hartford HealthCare affiliation is approved

July 24, 2013

NORWICH (July 24, 2013) — Backus Corporation and Hartford HealthCare have received approval to affiliate from the state Office of Health Care Access. 

The state’s approval of the Certificate of Need to form a partnership means that Backus will be a member of Hartford HealthCare, and the organizations will now be able to create an integrated health care delivery system for Eastern Connecticut’s patients and their families.

To improve care coordination and access in Eastern Connecticut, Hartford HealthCare will establish a newly defined East Region, comprised of system members in New London and Windham Counties. This will include Backus and Windham Hospital, which is already a Hartford HealthCare member. Hartford HealthCare and its affiliates in the East Region will develop a strategic plan to advance the delivery of health care services.

“This is a great day for patients in Eastern Connecticut,” said Dave Whitehead, President and Chief Executive Officer of Backus. “This affiliation creates a very bright, sustainable future for health care right here, close to home. Our goal throughout this very deliberate process has been to create far more coordinated care at every level for our patients and their families. This is a giant step forward toward achieving that vision.”

“We are delighted to have such a successful partner in our system,” said Elliot Joseph, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hartford HealthCare. “With Backus, we will be able to provide a higher level of coordinated care for patients in this important region. This is truly ‘win-win.’ Patients in Eastern Connecticut will have greater access to the right care at the right place. Providers can share best practices and innovative technologies.”

Key provisions

In their affiliation agreement, the Boards of both organizations created key provisions aimed at
furthering care delivery in the East Region by making it fully integrated and more efficient.

These include:
• A capital commitment to the East Region to support carrying out a new regional strategic plan
• An ongoing fund for medical staff development
• Commitment to a trauma center at Backus, with a LIFE STAR helicopter permanently stationed at the hospital
• Establishment of an extensive primary care and ambulatory care network, including surgical services
• Development of a more comprehensive cancer services network for the region, building on Backus and Hartford HealthCare’s existing cancer care and using the expertise of local medical specialists
• Advancing cardiac care services in the region, supported by local specialists
• Creation of a Preventive Medicine Institute at Backus, which would focus on helping Eastern Connecticut residents lead healthier lives before they require hospitalization or develop chronic conditions
• Enhanced neonatology coverage at Backus, providing the Birthing Center with more access to neonatal specialists

‘Major step forward’

These initiatives will form the basis of the region’s strategic plan. They would meet the goals set by the Backus Board when the partner selection process began in 2011, said Backus Board Chairman Anthony Joyce.

“This is a major step forward for health care delivery right in our region,” Joyce said.

“Our board’s top priority has been to create a sustainable system of care — one that provides
patients with greater access, offers more seamless transitions and strengthens key services. In
every way, this affiliation will help us create that coordinated model.”

What changes, what doesn’t

To better coordinate care delivery between the two East Region acute care hospitals as part of the affiliation, Backus President and Chief Executive Officer David Whitehead will also become CEO of the Hartford HealthCare East Region, including both Backus and Windham hospitals. Whitehead will also become a Senior Vice President of Hartford HealthCare.

Windham CEO Stephen W. Larcen, PhD, will become the new Senior Vice President of Hartford HealthCare’s Behavioral Health Network and will continue in his role as President and CEO of Natchaug Hospital. Larcen will oversee the system’s behavioral health and substance abuse programs (which include The Institute of Living, Natchaug Hospital and Rushford), as well as  coordinate the behavioral health programs at Hartford HealthCare’s acute care hospitals. 

“This affiliation is a very positive step forward for Windham Hospital and all who rely on us for their care,” Larcen said. “Under Dave Whitehead’s leadership, Backus has demonstrated great success at every level — clinically, strategically and financially. His leadership in aligning the services and expertise of these two acute care hospitals will improve care delivery in our region.”

Under the agreement, Backus Hospital and Windham Hospital will retain their names, identities, medical staffs and separate hospital and affiliate licenses. The Backus Board will remain, with the addition of two members from the Hartford HealthCare system Board. Likewise, two Backus Board members will be added to the system Board of Directors.

Additionally, all funds that have been, or will be, donated to either hospital will be used as the donors intended in their respective service areas.

Background and next steps

Backus and Hartford HealthCare have been working to form a strategic partnership since signing a letter of intent in February 2012. Since that time, the boards of both organizations met to determine how an affiliation would be in the best interest of patients and the communities they serve.

Hartford HealthCare is the premiere health care network in Connecticut with more than 16,000 employees and more than $2 billion in net revenue. The health system is dedicated to providing patients with an exceptional, coordinated care experience and a single, high standard of service. Hartford HealthCare includes Hartford Hospital; The Hospital of Central Connecticut; MidState Medical Center; Windham Hospital and the Institute of Living psychiatric center, which is part of a greater Behavioral Health Network including Rushford and Natchaug Hospital; VNA HealthCare; Clinical Laboratory Partners with locations statewide; Hartford HealthCare Medical Group; Connecticut Senior Health Services, which includes five assisted-living and skilled nursing facilities; and the Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation. A hallmark of the system's vision is to strengthen access to care close to home for patients by enhancing local health care delivery, bringing the latest technology and discoveries, clinical excellence and innovation to the patient and to the community.

The Backus Health System includes The William W. Backus Hospital, a 213-bed acute care hospital that is the only state-licensed Trauma Center east of the Connecticut River; a home health care agency; an outpatient care center in Norwich with an array of services; health centers in Colchester, Ledyard, Montville, North Stonington and Norwich; a satellite 24-hour emergency department in Plainfield; Backus Physician Services, a multi-specialty surgical group; and Community Medical Partners, a medical foundation. Backus is one of two sole members of the Center for Hospice Care Southeast Connecticut, and has an ownership interest in dialysis centers in the region.

Windham Hospital is a 130-bed acute care hospital serving thousands of people in northeastern Connecticut. For nearly 80 years, Windham Hospital has been renowned for its outstanding physicians and extraordinary nursing care and today offers a unique combination of talent and technology in patient care as a member of Hartford HealthCare, Connecticut’s premier health care system.

Hartford Hospital