On March 18, the state reopened Yale New Haven Hospital’s Office of Health Strategy application to transfer and consolidate all of its primary care sites to the New Haven Primary Care Consortium at 150 Sargent Drive.
The hospital’s application to establish the consortium was closed in January so that the state could move on to reviewing plans to close the other primary care sites prior to the move to the Long Wharf location. But the state decided to reopen the application to gain more information on the consolidation.
In response to new questions posed by the state last week, YNHH stated that regulatory hurdles related to renovations will delay the consolidation of primary care services to the consortium location by nearly one year, according to a March 21 document signed by Jeryl Topalian, Yale New Haven Hospital’s director of strategy and regulatory planning. The document also responded to the state’s concerns regarding women’s care and transportation to the Long Wharf facility.
According to the New Haven Independent, the consortium plans to offer a variety of services at its location at Long Wharf, including radiology and behavioral health care. The plans, however, have drawn sharp criticism from Yale’s medical community and local advocates, including seven interviewed by the News in January, who said that the Long Wharf location will not be accessible to low-income, disabled and elderly patients.
“I hope the delay to transfer services provides an opportunity to consider more comprehensive transportation options and to reconsider the need for additional community input for the move,” an internal medicine resident who both wished to remain anonymous, fearing retaliation from the hospital, told the News.
Yale New Haven Hospital did not respond to a request for comment on whether it anticipates other delays.
In reopening the application, the state posed four additional questions to YNHH administrators and asked them to provide more information on a variety of issues including a timeline for the consolidation and clarifications on transportation to the Long Wharf facility.
In the hospital’s Thursday response to the questions, Topalian stated that YNHH intends to delay its estimated transition date by about a year — the transition was initially slated to start in September 2019 and will instead begin late summer 2020. The delay is attributed to a late start in construction and unfinished city paperwork.
The facility’s proposed location lies in a flood plain, which requires approval from the City Plan Commission — a group that meets monthly. According to the responses submitted by YNHH administrators, the application will be submitted in mid-April for review by the commission during its May 15 planned meeting.
According to the hospital’s March 21 response, YNHH will need to obtain a Floodplain Development Permit from the city and will flood-proof some parts of the facility.
“Construction can not start until end of February/March 2020,” the document stated. “Any and all project dates are contingent upon the City Plan review.”
The state has raised other questions in reopening the case regarding family planning services and transportation to the facility.
The federally qualified health centers Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center and Fair Haven Community Health Care will also operate within the consortium, but “may not perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning, nor take any other affirmative action to assist a patient to secure such an abortion” in accordance with amended Title X regulations, which provide individuals with family planning services, according to the document.
The state asked YNHH on March 18 to elaborate on how current Title X regulations will affect operations at these two facilities. The hospital stated in its March 21 response that the regulation’s impact is not yet known.
The transportation proposals accompanying the consolidation have angered local advocates, who have argued that the new, isolated location will pose difficulties for elderly or disabled patients. YNHH has touted its use of Uber and other ride-service providers but claimed that it is unfeasible to provide a shuttle service.
Advocates argued that for those who use walking aids or wheelchairs, services such as Uber or state-coordinated ride providers cannot adequately and consistently serve their needs — especially if they cannot move from a wheelchair or motorized scooter into a car on their own.
“[The proposal] probably came from people who don’t use wheelchairs,” Michelle Duprey, director of the City’s Department of Services for Persons with Disabilities, told the News.
In the Thursday letter — after the state explicitly asked about the viability of using a shuttle — Topalian reiterated YNHH’s earlier claim that such a service, which Duprey told the News would be a preferable proposal, is “not viable.”
The Yale New Haven Hospital opened in 1826, according to their website.
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