Sweet victory for pregnant women and their families
In June 2020, Windham Hospital (owned by Hartford HealthCare) closed labor & delivery services in a rural area of the state, leaving women on their own to travel miles to deliver their babies.
They acted without getting required permission from the state.
This move had a particularly negative impact on Black, Brown and low-income women in a region leading the state in health disparities.
The situation was made worse by the lack of good transportation options. Since Windham Hospital shuttered its labor & delivery services, several women have delivered babies in the back of an ambulance traveling winding roads from Windham to Backus Hospital in Norwich.
A local coalition, Windham United to Save Our Healthcare, came together and fought back. The group organized community support, reached out to the media, engaged legislators and the Attorney General, and sent petitions and information to the state oversight agency, Office of Health Strategy (OHS). Dozens testified at the OHS hearing on the application in the fall of 2021.
Two years later, OHS ruled that the hospital closed the services without meeting 5 of the 8 criteria for approval.
The hospital may appeal – and the fight continues to restore labor & delivery services in Windham.
This is not only happening in Windham – two other rural Connecticut hospitals have closed labor & delivery services.
What happens in Windham sets the stage for fights to preserve vital health care services in hospitals across the state.
“This is a testament to the power of people standing up for themselves. Hartford HealthCare made a callous and cynical decision. They were wrong to think it was okay to do more harm. Now they must undo this mistake and listen to the community,” said Universal’s Lynne Ide, also a member of Windham United to Save Our Healthcare.