As reported by the New Britain Herald, January 19, 2008.

UConn Among Hospitals Getting Hardship Funds

By Scott Whipple

Eight hospitals in the state, including one in Farmington, will get help to meet critical operating expenses, expand facilities and strengthen their long-term financial health.

Social Services Commissioner Michael Starkowski said Friday that more than $20.3 million from the state’s Hospital Hardship Fund has been allocated.

Ranging from $450,000 for Rockville General Hospital to $10 million for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, hardship grants are designed to help the state’s nonprofit hospitals meet extraordinary expenses and prevent shortfalls that could threaten patient care.

The following hospitals were notified of awards totaling $20,350,000:

University of Connecticut Health Center at John Demp­sey Hospital, Farmington $1.5 million for neonatal intensive care unit equipment and ambulances.

“Our neonatal intensive care unit is a true statewide resource,” center spokesman Chris DeFrancesco said. “It enables us to serve the most vulnerable infants from throughout Connecticut. This funding is deeply appreciated and will help us continue to provide much-needed care.”

Bristol Hospital $500,000 for a quality improvement program and strategic planning review.

Michael Orr, vice president of finance and chief financial officer of Bristol Hospital, said, “We appreciate the state’s assistance and intend to replicate the success of the $1.2 million we received from last year’s distressed-hospital fund.”

Orr said those funds were used to renovate the hospital’s emergency care center.

“We added fast-track rooms for less acute patients,” he said. “This resulted in an additional 2,000 emergency room visits, reduced our wait times and greatly improved our patients’ satisfaction scores. We went nationally from 38th percentile to 98th percentile,” he said.

Orr said the $500,000 would be used to good advantage.

“The hospital recently added a director of quality programs,” he said. “We thought it very important to focus on quality in order to drive the business.”

Other fund recipients:

Connecticut Children’s Medi­cal Center, Hartford $10 million to help meet current operating needs and comply with debt agreements.

The Hospital of Saint Raphael, New Haven $3.4 million to help buy a 64-slice CT scanner and laboratory information system.

Charlotte Hungerford Hos­pital, Torrington $1.5 million to aid in roof and parapet replacements.

Windham Hospital $1.5 million supplementing $3.2 million awarded in September to help with operating cost obligations.

Johnson Memorial Hospi­tal, Stafford Springs $1.5 million to help with operating cost obligations.

Rockville General Hospital, Eastern Connecticut Health Network, $450,000 for boiler replacement and infrastructure repairs.

“These awards are further indication of how important our network of nonprofit hospitals is in caring for the residents of Connecticut,” Starkowski said in a statement. “Gov. Rell and the legislature are making sure our hospitals remain financially healthy and resilient through a number of support mechanisms. The hardship grants will go a long way toward upgrading and modernizing services and facilities, or meeting extraordinary operating expenses at eight of our hospitals.”