News & Events

Backus, Windham highlight year of growth in first joint annual meeting

January 23, 2018

NORWICH – Backus and Windham hospitals experienced a year of growth, improved patient safety and enhanced patient satisfaction scores, according to officials at the first-ever combined annual meeting of the two Hartford HealthCare hospitals.

The meeting, the theme of which was “Defining Moments,” was held at the Hartford HealthCare East System Support Office on Stott Avenue in Norwich. Highlights of the year at the two not-for-profit hospitals included:

  • The introduction of recovery coaches in both hospital emergency departments to address the rising incidence of opioid overdoses. In the first few months, almost all of the patients coming in for treatment were connected to a detoxification facility, inpatient or outpatient care, medication-assisted treatment or other forms of community support. Without recovery coaches, patients previously had been referred to future behavioral health appointments but often did not keep them.
  • Increased care for cardiology patients at Windham with the addition of providers and advanced technology, including a second Echocardiography machine in a specialized room. Hartford HealthCare also welcomed Rhode Island cardiologist Howard L. Haronian, MD, FACC, as chief medical director and regional vice of the Heart and Vascular Institute in Eastern Connecticut.
  • Expanded vascular services at Backus with the addition of a new provider and the creation of a state-of-the-art vascular laboratory that offers non-invasive diagnostic testing for a wide array of vascular conditions.
  • The opening of a 40,000-square foot Hartford HealthCare Family Health Center in Plainfield. The building currently houses primary care and cardiology services, and there are plans for an infusion center and ambulatory surgery in the near future.
  • The creation of partnerships with community providers to introduce Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted hip and knee replacement surgery and spine surgery at both hospitals. The program at Backus earned Joint Commission gold certification for both knee and hip replacement surgery, and the team is already working on securing the same certification at Windham.
  • A multi-pronged expansion of such key services as oncology, urology and headache care, as well as the opening of a new ambulatory surgical center in Waterford.
  • The unveiling of the latest in three-dimensional mammography, or tomosynthesis, at Backus.
  • Backus’ successful transition to CareConnect, an electronic medical records technology that combines patient registration, health records and billing so patients can move seamlessly, and with their medical records, throughout the Hartford HealthCare system and beyond.

Donna Handley, who was named president of Backus and Windham on Oct. 1, 2017, said both hospitals demonstrated a deep and ongoing commitment to providing safe, high-quality healthcare to the people of these communities. 

“Despite the challenges of a competitive marketplace, federal mandates, hospital taxes and reimbursement rates, Backus and Windham hospitals both exhibited strong performances in 2017,” she said. “The hospitals also earned high grades from national firms for patient safety and introduced a variety of key services in demand in eastern Connecticut.

“The goal is to infuse the region with key specialty services so the people who live here can find high-quality care close to home.”

Handley also spoke about the strategy behind a combined annual meeting for Backus and Windham to further cultivate a regional system of care for eastern Connecticut while still preserving the unique nature of each community hospital. The results of being part of a larger healthcare system, she stressed, helped bring needed specialty services, technology and practitioners to the region in 2017.

“It’s important that we adapt a regional mentality … but we commit to preserving the hospitals’ individual legacies as we move forward,” Handley said, pointing to enhanced orthopedics and hospitalist programs and a blossoming spine surgery program and overall physician recruitment as evidence of regionalized efforts and the benefits of being part of Hartford HealthCare.

She went on to note that the expansion of services in the East Region continues into the current fiscal year, with both hospitals now offering the latest Globus ExcelsiusGPS™ robotic navigation technology for spine surgery. Hartford HealthCare is the only system in the state to offer the cutting-edge technology and cases are scheduled at both Backus and Windham this month.

The meeting also served as an unofficial kick-off for Backus’ 125th anniversary year, which is being called “A Heritage of Healing – Ready for Tomorrow!” Handley noted that there will be various events throughout the year to commemorate the founding of the hospital in October of 1893 by businessmen William Backus and William Slater.

More information on Backus and Windham in 2017 can be found in their online annual reports, which are posted at and


Backus Hospital

Backus Hospital is celebrating the 125th year of providing quality healthcare to the residents of eastern Connecticut. The not-for-profit, 213-bed hospital in Norwich offers a variety of primary and specialty services, including the only trauma center in New London and Windham counties serviced by LIFESTAR helicopter services, in partnership with Hartford Hospital. Backus offers wound care and hyperbaric medicine, Mako robotic-arm assisted hip and knee replacement services, Globus ExcelsiusGPS™ surgical guidance system for spine procedures, a comprehensive cancer program affiliated with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, minimally-invasive surgery program using the daVinci® surgical robot, surgical and medical weight loss, advanced cardiology and vascular care, and the state-of-the-art Dr. Frederick S. Eadie Birthing Center. Other services – including a diabetes center, arthritis center and anti-coagulation clinic – are offered in the Backus Outpatient Care Center and other off-site locations.

Windham Hospital

Windham Hospital is a 130-bed, not-for-profit acute care community hospital in Willimantic that provides state-of-the-art, comprehensive medical services to the people living in its 19-town service area in the northeast corner of Connecticut. For more than 75 years, Windham has offered emergency care with access to advanced care via LIFESTAR helicopter services, in partnership with Hartford Hospital, primary care, wound care, Mako robotic-arm assisted hip and knee replacement services, Globus ExcelsiusGPS™ surgical guidance system for spine procedures, a comprehensive cancer program affiliated with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, minimally-invasive surgery using the daVinci® surgical robot, advanced cardiology care and services for the geriatric population through the Center for Healthy Aging.