Commonly Asked Questions about the New Milford Hospital Danbury Hospital Affiliation
Q: What does it mean to be affiliated?
A: It means that two long-time community hospitals will be strengthened by joining together as partners in providing the highest level of care for our region. They will collaborate to provide increased access to primary and specialty care and the shared, high-quality standards of care. Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital will share resources for cost efficiencies and savings and a common goal for improving the health of residents in Western Connecticut.
Officially, Western Connecticut Healthcare, Inc. (formerly Danbury Health Systems) is now the parent company to both New Milford Hospital and Danbury Hospital. Western Connecticut Healthcare also will be the parent company for a physician group (Danbury Office of Physician Services), VNA services, pharmacy services, corporate health services and ambulatory surgery services.
Q: Did the two hospitals merge or will they remain independent of one another?
A: While the two hospitals are formally affiliated now, each hospital will retain its individual hospital license, which legally identifies them as two separate hospitals. However, each hospital will report to one president and chief executive officer – John Murphy, MD. There is a common board of directors for the system made up of both Danbury and New Milford volunteers. In addition, New Milford Hospital has created a community board that consists of bothNew Milford Hospital physicians, community members and John Murphy, MD.
Q: Will the hospitals work together, and if so, how?
A: The hospitals have historically worked together and continue to do so in order to provide excellent care to patients and their families in our communities and throughout Western Connecticut and adjacent NY. Uniting as one network will build on our collaboration and strengthens both organizations. For example, there are certain services that are not offered at New Milford Hospital – such as open heart surgery. Working together, patients from New Milford will not have to leave the area for this specialty surgery. Danbury Hospital will benefit from collaborative care as this facility now has access to a greater number of patient beds. The two hospitals and their staff are working and learning together. This affiliation creates a stronger regional healthcare network for you and your family that brings the quality care currently offered by both organizations to an even higher level.
Q: How will policies be developed and implemented?
A: Over the next several months each hospital is working hard to understand the practices and nuances of how we are alike and how we are also different. The initial step in this process has been the discovery phase and evaluation of each of the hospital’s policies and procedures. The evaluation process determines the best policies and procedures used between each facility. Physicians, administrative experts, staff and community members are involved in deciding which policies and procedures work best for our patients and community. Policies and procedures that need to remain separate because of the individual hospital licenses will remain separate.
Q: Will New Milford Hospital continue to offer the same (fewer or more) medical services as a result of the affiliation?
A: A strategic planning process is taking place over the course of the next several months most likely through spring. Plans will be developed collaboratively and collectively to determine the type and levels of care that will be provided throughout the region, and at which facilities. This process is very important because it will match the community needs to care and services. The planning phase is so important in building a strong foundation of care for patients throughout their lifetime and around our region. Ultimately, we are on the journey of creating a destination for healthcare that will satisfy the very broad array of needed services.
Q: Will the patient’s relationship with his or her primary care physician change in any way?
A: A patient’s relationship with their primary care physician will remain their own personal choice. Patients, and their doctors, may have more choices. Improved access to specialty care is available right here, close to home and family. The affiliation has opened the door for many primary care physicians who have had to refer outside of the immediate area for care. It also has made access to that care much more convenient for our residents.
Q: Will the training of doctors and nurses and the required level of their skill and competency be the same at each hospital?
A: The vision of Western Connecticut Healthcare is to standardize the recruitment and orientation of our clinicians – thus, standardizing the highest level of competency across all points of care and services. A patient seeking services that are provided at both hospitals can be assured they will get excellent care at either facility.
Q: Will each hospital charge the same amount for the same services and drugs, etc?
A: No, not initially. As part of the integration process we are performing various studies and looking at comparative pricing data to develop the charge structures for each hospital that reflects quality and value for our patients.
Q: Will a New Milford patient be referred to Danbury Hospital or to one of its doctors, and vice versa?
A: A patient from the New Milford area will be referred to Danbury Hospital or one of its doctors as medically necessary and vice-versa: a patient from the Danbury area will be referred to the New Milford Hospital if medically necessary. For example, a New Milford mother-to-be who has been identified as a high-risk patient may be sent to Danbury Hospital to take advantage of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – a Unit that New Milford Hospital does not have. Alternatively, a Danbury patient who is suffering from a certain type of cancer may be referred to New Milford Hospital to take advantage of clinical trials that are not being offered at Danbury Hospital.
Q: Will the patient’s health care plan be accepted at each hospital?
A: Some health plans are accepted at both hospitals, but some are not. Over time, it is our intent to have common insurances across both hospitals.
Q: Will there be any job losses as a result of the affiliation?
A: There are no lay-offs planned as the result of this affiliation. However, the duties of some employees will change over time, to adjust to organizational and community changes. We want to be a growing organization that continues to thrive for our community.
Q: If I make a donation to one of the hospitals, where will my donations go?
A: Over the years the support of our generous communities has enabled Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital to create new programs and services and offer the highest level of care to all patients. We are so very grateful for this generosity. We recognize that each hospital has its own reputation for patient-centered, high-touch care. That is something that we want to preserve.
We also recognize that each hospital has a considerable donor community who wants their gifts to be used where intended. We encourage donors to continue to support their hospital with the assurance that their donations will remain at that hospital as directed. However, to the extent a donor wants to give to the Western Connecticut Healthcare network, given our vision and the real aspiration to be an integrated network, that opportunity also is very welcome.
If donors give locally to support either hospital or the system, the returns are going to flow back immediately and locally.