In front of an Academic Lobby packed with Health Center employees and supporters, Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced plans to establish the UConn Health Network – a unique partnership with area hospitals aimed at creating jobs and improving access to quality health care in the state.
The centerpiece of the partnership is a new patient care tower and renovations to John Dempsey Hospital. The plan will also include increased classroom and lab space for more medical and dental students, aimed at alleviating an expected shortage of doctors and dentists in the state. The governor estimates the state “stands to gain 5,000 new jobs in the years to come.”
The UConn Health Network would involve the cooperation of all the area hospitals including Hartford Hospital, St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and other health care facilities and providers.
“This partnership will result in a state-of-the-art John Dempsey Hospital and a health network with incredible reach throughout Connecticut,” Rell said. “Together, we will help lift the UConn schools of medicine into the top tier of academics and research and create thousands of healthcare jobs for our economy.”
The plan is estimated to cost $352 million and funding would come from various sources including $100 million in federal funds; $25 million for design and planning from UConn 21st Century funding; and $227 million in state bonding.
“This pathway promises to solve the chronic budgetary challenges at the UConn Health Center and establish, for the first time in years, a stable fiscal foundation,” says University of Connecticut President Michael Hogan. “It allows UConn and other hospitals throughout the region to better meet the healthcare needs of our citizens, offers opportunities for tremendous job growth in the state, and promotes economic development – all of which reinforce UConn’s public mission as Connecticut’s land-grant flagship research university.”
“As a practicing surgeon at the John Dempsey Hospital, I can personally attest to the need for the hospital renewal plan to help us meet critical teaching goals, improve outcomes, and help move our schools to the top tier,” added Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, the Health Center’s vice president for health affairs and dean of the UConn School of Medicine.
Features of the Network:
- Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: The operations will be managed by Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Patients will continue to be treated at the Health Center; NICU physicians and staff will remain Health Center employees.
- Nationally recognized cancer center: The goal will be to achieve National Institutes of Health designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, making it the second in the state outside of Yale.
- Regional Simulation Center: It will train up to 2,000 medical practitioners each year on the newest equipment and technology in simulated care settings, and will be located at Hartford Hospital.
- Primary Care Institute: It will be located at St. Francis Hospital and will develop new models of chronic disease management and primary care delivery and education. It will also address the impending shortage of primary care providers in Connecticut.
- Health Disparities Institute: It will promote enhanced healthcare research, training, and delivery to minority communities.
- Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences: It will be a super-site by network partners and will speed lab-to-bedside clinical trials and breakthrough medicine.
- Bioscience Enterprise Zone: It will offer state tax breaks to private companies that create jobs and work with UConn Health Network partners.
“This effort will put ‘all hands on deck,’ with leaders across the state working together to address the future of the Health Center,” said Hogan. “I’m especially grateful for the leadership of the Governor and her staff, the critical help from our UConn Board of Trustees and Health Center Board of Directors, and the valuable advice of legislative leaders in both parties. Also, we wouldn’t have reached this point without the leadership of our affiliated teaching hospitals and regional healthcare providers.”
The UConn Health Network plan needs the approval of the Health Center Board of Directors and the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees. It will then be presented to the state legislature, in hopes of getting legislation passed before the end of the spring session.