Westerly Hospital CEO Charlie Kinney briefed the Stonington Board of Selectmen, Wednesday evening, on the status of a possible alliance between Westerly and .
“We’re in the very early stages no decisions have been made,” Kinney said using the metaphor of an artist molding wet clay into a sculpture to describe where the two hospitals are in the process.
In August the two health care providers announced the signing of a that could result in some sort of affiliation or merger.
Kinney said the exploration process, which they are already in their second month of could take three to four months.
The hospitals Kinney said are looking at what the opportunities there are and how they could do things together, but don’t expect major changes. If at the end of the exploration period the two health care providers reach some sort of agreement they would then need approval from both Connecticut and Rhode Island, which could take an additional several months.
Kinney emphasized the strategic alliance the two hospitals are exploring is non-binding, but also said every option is being considered. Input from medical staffs at the hospitals, Kinney said, is key to deciding what departments if any would move.
First Selectman Edward Haberek Jr., stressed how important the Westerly Hospital is to the area.
“If we have any input my feeling is it needs to still be a community hospital,” Haberek said. “The Westerly Hospital is a critical facility, especially for residents of Pawcatuck.”
While Kinney made no promises he praised the culture at L&M Hospital as similar to that of the one at Westerly Hospital.
“We want an efficient system that delivers high quality care,” Kinney said.
Kinney said a strategic alliance makes sense for the two hospitals as health care costs continue to rise and while L&M Hospital has too many patients for capacity, Westerly Hospital has more capacity than it does patients.
The Westerly Hospital, according to Kinney, has lost money for the past 30 years. And Kinney said he doesn’t believe a small community hospital can survive the future of healthcare, adding that hospital mergers or affiliations are happening all over New England.