Hartford HealthCare faces setbacks with ASC construction, acquisitions

Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare is aiming to expand its ASC presence throughout the state but is facing setbacks from competitors and regulators, according to a March 20 report from the Hartford Business Journal. 

Hartford is looking to establish an ASC in Plainfield, acquire the majority stake in ASCs in Torrington and Wilton, and take over governance control of an ASC in Trumbull; however, all four deals have been stuck in the state's regulatory process for years, according to the report. 

Several local ASCs have raised concerns about competitiveness in the area, and one of Hartford's deals faces a court challenge. 

Rebecca Stewart, Hartford's vice president of content strategy, told the Business Journal that Hartford is shifting its non-emergency focus to ASCs, lower-cost urgent care and home-based community services. 

Nearly 40 percent of Hartford's surgeries are now performed outside of hospitals, and its non-emergent emergency department visits are down 10 percent since 2016. 

Hartford has proposed a 13,000-square-foot ASC in Plainfield adjacent to the outpatient center it constructed in 2018. It plans a $5.5 million expenditure for the project, with 49 percent of the facility owned by physician-investors and Constitution Surgery Alliance, a surgery center developer. The proposed facility would focus on orthopedics, pain management, urology and gastroenterology. 

The ASC was originally approved in 2021 but faced a lawsuit from Putnam, Conn.-based Day Kimball Healthcare claiming that the Office of Health Strategy did not follow the proper statutory requirements when approving the ASC. 

Day Kimball expressed that a new ASC would cause a 30 percent to 40 percent decrease in its surgery volume. Hartford filed a motion to dismiss the case, which was denied. OHS is holding a public hearing on the ASC construction in April. 

Hartford is also seeking a 51 percent stake in Litchfield Hills Surgery Center in Torrington, Conn., part of Litchfield Hills Orthopedic Associates. The plans, submitted in 2021, are awaiting city approval but have not received any public comment. 

In 2020 it applied for 51 percent ownership of Southwest Connecticut Surgery Center in Wilton, Conn. 

Hartford is also seeking governance control over the Surgery Center of Fairfield County in Trumbull, Conn., which it filed for in 2021. It is still awaiting regulatory approval. 

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