News & Events

‘Affiliation’ is the right word for our future

August 17, 2012

The following column from Backus President and Chief Executive Officer appeared in HospiTell, Backus Hospital’s weekly newsletter.

Dear Colleagues:

“Independence” is the word of the week. On Wednesday, our great nation paused to celebrate its independence from Great Britain, in a stirring declaration whose words still resound 236 years later.

But some of you are also wondering about hospital independence. Specifically, what will our proposal to become a partner with Hartford HealthCare mean for our proud and successful institution? A flurry of somewhat confusing news items over the past few weeks has naturally sparked additional questions.

Anyone who has attended at least one of the past eight quarterly update meetings knows that this is not a topic we have treated lightly. It’s an important step for us — historic, even. That’s why it’s important that all of us have the facts so we can have informed discussions. I have pledged to continue to keep you “in the loop” as we proceed.

Let me start by answering the question that some of you have asked, and that the media has raised: Is our plan with Hartford HealthCare designed to result in an “acquisition,” or an “affiliation”?

I need to be crystal clear about this: Our proposed relationship with Hartford HealthCare is an affiliation. Let me add, equally emphatically, that it is not an acquisition.

This isn’t just a matter of wordplay. Although we are still working on the details, and the due diligence” both organizations are doing is exhaustive, you don’t need to be a lawyer

to understand this. In an acquisition, something is bought, and something is sold. Plainly put: Backus isn’t selling — and Hartford HealthCare isn’t buying. It’s really that simple.

Another question that has been raised concerns gifts made to Backus. Again, I want to leave no room for misunderstanding: All donations and philanthropic gifts made to Backus, previously and going forward, will remain with Backus as donors intended. This is the only honorable and sensible thing to do — and, indeed, this has been the case at other Hartford HealthCare partner hospitals.

In my many conversations with staff, physicians, our Board, Corporators and community members, I have likened this process to a very deliberate engagement that leads to a marriage. It’s a hokey analogy, sure, but it holds up pretty well. If our two healthcare delivery systems “get to the altar,” so to speak, our purpose is to be true partners with a mutual commitment to improve care for all we serve.

Months of discussions, research and hard questions have led the Board subcommittees of both institutions to a rock-solid belief that this partnership is the key to creating a more responsive, cohesive and accessible healthcare delivery system. Furthermore, the Backus Board is intent on improving access to health services for the people of eastern Connecticut — and the proposed affiliation is all about doing that.

I hope this provides clarity. I understand this is a major undertaking for Backus, and the questions that have arisen are perfectly reasonable. I hope you will agree that the answers are, too. I look forward to sharing more information as we proceed. As always, the Backus community will be the first to be informed.

That’s all for now,