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Our Community, Our Hospital: A Letter to the Editor at Villager Newspapers from DHK President of the Medical Staff and Board of Director Member Michael Baum, MD, FACS


Our Community, Our Hospital
Letter to the Editor | Villager Papers |  May 20, 2022

Recent letters to the editor have raised concern and opposition to Day Kimball Healthcare’s (DKH) proposed affiliation with Covenant Health. As a member of the medical staff at DKH for 32 years and current President of the Medical Staff, I write to encourage our community to embrace this affiliation. 

The reality is that small independent hospitals are struggling to survive and can only do so by forming alliances. The cost of new technology is staggering and a new electronic health record system costs tens of millions of dollars. How can any small hospital afford this when our bottom line is $1 to $2 million in the black in a good year? Without an affiliation, Day Kimball cannot afford to make the investments we need to stay current and eventually would have to close our doors. As the largest employer in Northeast Connecticut, this outcome would be devastating to the community economically as well as medically. 

As a member of the DKH Board of Directors, I have been involved in many negotiations over years as we investigated possible affiliations. These have included large medical centers and for-profit systems, all of whom expected us to send all of our patients to their main center for care, and would close down most of our inpatient services including the intensive care unit, the medical-surgical unit and the birthing center. Had any of those negotiations come to fruition, Day Kimball would have become, in essence, an outpatient clinic. 

Covenant is the first group we have worked with who has a similar philosophy of caring for all and keeping care local. Their system currently includes three small community hospitals. Each of those hospitals continue to form partnerships with larger tertiary care centers near them to provide patient care that they as community hospitals are not equipped to provide, such as neurosurgery and cardiac surgery. Similar partnerships that Day Kimball has in place will not change and patients will stay local whenever possible. Yes, there are some Catholic directives to work with, but the physicians I have spoken with at Covenant’s other facilities assure us that the physician-patient relationship is not affected and the physician is free to recommend the care they feel is best for their patient. 

This affiliation is the best option to keep DKH in the community as a fully functioning hospital with the important services upon which our community has come to rely. Covenant Health is an organization that understands and supports the goals of community hospitals, not one that simply wants to take all of our patients and staff. Again, there are some directives we will work with but in the end, we either work with them or face losing the whole system, making healthcare in Northeast Connecticut much harder to access. I believe the decision is clear.

Michael Baum, MD, FACS
President of the Medical Staff
Director, Board of Directors
Day Kimball Healthcare

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