This Affiliation is a Good Thing for Our Hospital
Letter to the Editor | Villager Papers | June 3, 2022
Day Kimball Hospital is on the cusp of change. It is in the process of becoming a full member of Covenant Heath. I want to talk about it.
I was born at Day Kimball Hospital. My husband was too. Our daughters were born there. My parents died there. I could carry on with my connections to the jumble of brick buildings at the crest of “Hospital Hill” in Putnam. I’m sure many others have similar relationships to our most significant healthcare institution.
I thought I knew the place until I began my position on the Board of Directors of Day Kimball Healthcare. I’ve served on numerous boards but this appointment has turned out to be the most complicated, time consuming and interesting of them all. Every month, I read and reread the meeting minutes, especially the financial reports as well as the detailed information provided by those who inspect, review and evaluate aspects of the hospital I never considered. There is a unique vocabulary, a work force of over 1,000 people, millions of dollars in play, and a competitive, unpredictable marketplace. Yet, our hospital is open every day, every hour, and stands ready to help whomever comes in the door.
I want Day Kimball Hospital to survive and thrive. It can’t do so alone. For years members of the Board have looked into affiliating with larger groups. Hospitals around us have been bought up by the big two: Hartford Healthcare and Yale New Haven Health. Thankfully we were not, given they would have dismantled DKH as a full service hospital. Yet the need for a partner still remains.
Day Kimball needs millions of dollars to buy an electronic health records system that dominates all healthcare. Without it, Day Kimball can’t get reimbursed by federal, state or private insurance companies.
It needs not only to survive but also to continue to provide high-quality, up-to-date health care. DKH needs to recruit doctors, nurses, and health care professionals who exhibit the highest standards. These professionals want to work where the environment is progressive, positive and future oriented.
Covenant Health is a good match. The organization is similar to DKH. Their other hospitals are in rural places, i.e. two in Maine, and one in New Hampshire. They own 12 skilled nursing and senior living centers in similar rural communities. Covenant will keep our hospital and grow it rather than strip it of vital services and ship people out to other locations. They will keep our employees and add needed operational resources. They have a sound track record and the financial viability to keep Day Kimball moving forward.
Covenant Health is a not-for-profit as is Day Kimball, but there will be some changes. Covenant is an innovative Catholic health care system based in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. Representatives from Covenant have met with DKH doctors and staff, and they feel they can work well together. That means a lot. They will continue to treat patients of all faiths – or no faith at all – and all backgrounds regardless of income. They will keep a local board with people like me on it, who will focus on our community.
We’ve heard about not allowing the perfect to undermine the possible. We have an example in front of us regarding our single most important community institution. Joining the Covenant Health system is the best way to keep our hospital viable and moving forward. It is not a hasty decision. It is based in reality and optimism.
I want Day Kimball Hospital to continue to serve my family and all the other families in our community. After doing my best to understand the issues, I feel this is the right way to go. I proudly serve on the DKH Board to represent what the community needs and wants. This affiliation is a good thing.
Director, DKH Board of Directors