NVP’s healthcare justice work has focused on the impact to Naugatuck Valley communities by the sale of Waterbury Hospital in 2016 to the for-profit company Prospect Medical Holdings and its parent organization, Leonard Green & Partners, a $5.2 billion hedge fund based in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, for-profit hospitals in Connecticut are not subject to many of the same regulations with which non-profit hospitals must comply. The Office of Health Care Access did pro-actively establish 21 conditions that Prospect Medical Holdings has to meet for 3 years when it approved the sale of Waterbury Hospital to the company. However these conditions expire on October 1, 2019.
The need for increased pastoral care staffing at the hospital, an improved patient discharge process, and a decrease in the number of readmissions overall, but particularly in the Valley’s neighborhoods (zip codes) of color, were the three biggest concerns lifted up by NVP members during house meetings during 2018. NVP’s Hospital Committee heard the concerns, researched how other hospitals handled the issues, then coordinated months of action designed to persuade Prospect Medical Holdings administrators to change their ways.
By the summer of 2019, in response to NVP prodding, Prospect Medical Holdings had more than doubled the amount of pastoral staffing at the hospital, added an African-American representative to their Local Advisory Board, improved the discharge process in writing, and created 3 fulltime discharge nurse positions in order to improve patient home-from-the-hospital recovery and decrease the number of readmissions at the hospital.
Because NVP's Hospital Accountability Committee members have closely monitored conditions at Waterbury Hospital since its 2016 sale to Prospect Medical Holdings, they have been deeply troubled by Prospect Medical Holdings’ many reported lapses in proper hospital practices and procedures at Waterbury Hospital during 2019. These include:
• A suicide in March 2019 clouded by questionable circumstances;
• The Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation issue of a denial of accreditation to Prospect Medical Holdings, citing 43 outstanding violations of best hospital practices,
after a visit to Waterbury Hospital in early April 2019,
• Immediate (patient) jeopardy conditions cited by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Systems (CMS) following a visit to the facility at the end of April 2019;
• A downgrade in the hospital’s credit rating by Moody’s Investor Service in March 2019.
For these reasons, the NVP Hospital Accountability Committee is requesting that the Connecticut Department of Public Health extend its oversight of Waterbury Hospital for at least 1 year beyond October 1, 2019.