News & Events

Backus shines in 2012

November 16, 2012

NORWICH —Innovation, fiscal responsibility and a continued focus on providing health care in the community and outpatient settings led to a strong fiscal year for The William W. Backus Hospital.

Despite a lackluster economy and fewer inpatient admissions, Backus was able to post some of its best operational results in its 119-year history. The hospital achieved an operating margin of $26.6 million in the past fiscal year, or 9.4 %, which will be reinvested in further development of the Backus Health System.

Financial highlights, as well as milestones in the past year and plans for the future, were announced at the Annual Meeting of Corporators Wednesday at the Backus Business and Technology Center. The theme of the meeting and the hospital’s online annual report is the Big Picture, which can be viewed at

Backus Board Chairman Anthony Joyce said having such a successful year during a time of profound change in the health care industry is a testament to strong leadership and dedicated employees at the not-for-profit, 213-bed hospital.

“In spite of a turbulent economy and the harshest fiscal environment the health sector has ever faced, Backus is posting yet another highly successful year in terms of overall performance,” Mr. Joyce said.

“The big picture behind generating a sustainable operating margin is to have the ability to make investments in the things that matter,” said Dave Whitehead, Backus President and Chief Executive Officer. “They include programs and services that meet our region’s needs; the very best people to deliver care and support operations; and the infrastructure — electronic and material — to support the system of care.”

That system of care will change as health care reform unfolds.  In 2012, Backus worked to ready itself for a new health care environment through its proposed affiliation agreement with Hartford HealthCare.  If approved by state and federal regulators, the affiliation will position Backus and Hartford HealthCare to create a high-value, sustainable, fully integrated health care delivery system  for the eastern Connecticut region.

Mr. Whitehead thanked the Backus Board for its foresight, choosing to pursue an affiliation at a time when Backus was highly successful, especially as other hospitals across the state and nation are struggling to make an effective transformation.

Mr. Whitehead also thanked the Backus Medical Staff, employees and volunteers for staying focused on the Backus mission of improving the health of the community.

“We have seen improvements in care delivery, external recognition of our programs and processes and I know from talking with my colleagues at other hospitals and health systems that Backus in many ways truly sets the standard for excellence,” he said.

In addition to the affiliation — which would include a capital commitment  to  implement a regional strategic plan to create a fully integrated healthcare delivery system for the Eastern Connecticut region; an ongoing fund for medical staff development and enhancing access to a wide range of health care services — there were many other accomplishments in the past year. They include:

  • Opening the Plainfield Emergency Care Center on July 9, which expanded access to emergency services, lab and diagnostic imaging to northern New London New London County and southern Windham County. The center is on a pace to see more than 17,000 patients in its first year, which is higher than originally projected.
  • The Colchester and Montville Backus Health Centers became the first physician groups in Connecticut to receive the National Committee for Quality Assurance Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition using the latest standards including streamlined electronic medical record processes, electronic prescribing and establishment of an electronic patient portal.
  • Because of its progress with electronic medical records and other initiatives, Backus was a repeat recipient of the prestigious “Most Wired” Award from the American Hospital Association.  Backus was also recognized by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society because of its progress with electronic medical records — among the top 6% of all hospitals in our country.
  • Backus became the only hospital in eastern Connecticut to earn designation as a Nationally Accredited Breast Center by the American College of Surgeons.
  • It launched a new congestive heart failure program, a multi-faceted approach for heart failure patients that includes intense treatment in the hospital and extensive and services for patients after they are discharged.  This team approach includes staff from Patient Care Services, Nutrition, Pharmacy, Palliative Care and others.
  • Backus Home Health Care was named to the list of “HomeCare Elite,” meaning it is one of the top-performing home health agencies in the U.S. based on quality outcomes, process measure implementation and financial performance.
  • The Backus Stroke Program earned a silver designation by the American Heart Association for meeting national standards for stroke care.  This means patients are receiving the best care without having to travel to larger tertiary hospitals.
  • Consumer Reports” released its first-ever nationwide hospital safety rating.  Backus ranked as the second safest hospital in the state, and among the very best in the nation based on infection rates, readmissions, communication of medical instructions, CT Scanning rates, complications and mortality.
  • Several partnerships and new technology  enabled even more community health outreach, part of the hospital’s strategy to bring health care to those that need it before they are hospitalized. Together with community partners, Backus used data and its Mobile Health Resource Center (a medical center on wheels) to offer community outreach programs where they are needed most, from soup kitchens to schools and even specific neighborhoods, such as Greeneville.
  • Because there are more cancer survivors than ever before, Backus created a Center for Cancer Survivorship. Its focus is after treatment, when cancer survivors still benefit from services such as nutritional counseling, physical therapy, complimentary therapy, support groups and more. All of these services are now coordinated and easily accessible.
  • The main hospital lab moved to next door from United Community & Family Services in Norwichtown. This is part of a continuing effort to add outpatient services in the community and free up clinical space in the hospital.

Mr. Whitehead pledged to build on this past year’s success in 2013. He announced that the Backus Cancer Center, which has been providing care close to home for the past 15 years, will add a cancer boutique for patients. It will offer a wide variety of specialized products designed to enhance appearance during cancer treatment and recuperation, and also offer personalized advice from specially trained staff.

“It’s another example of providing care in new and different ways,” he said. “I want to thank our staff and our community supporters for being such champions of this initiative. Together, we make a healthier community.”

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