Photo of the UConn Health Center

Messages from the Executive Vice President

March 18, 2009

The Governor’s Announcement Regarding Our New Hospital

President Hogan and I were not surprised when Governor Rell announced earlier this week that she does not support the proposed replacement hospital and partnership with Hartford Hospital. Her letter can be read here:

A great amount of effort has taken place over the past several months to engage elected officials regarding our vision for the future of the Health Center, and the crucial importance a new hospital will play. These talks are proving to be exceptionally helpful. We are making our case, listening to views and concerns, providing information to allow for a thoughtful decision to be reached by legislators. We were aware of the concerns expressed by the governor and believe the benefits of the proposal outweigh her concerns. We will continue to work with the General Assembly to move the plan forward.

Several elements of Governor Rell’s announcement are encouraging. Her letter is thoughtful, acknowledges the Health Center as being “a critical element of the current health care network,” and describes the merger plan as having “enormous promise.” She also acknowledges the proposal “would modernize the UConn hospital and bring the latest in health care technology to the people it serves, provide the finest training possible to our medical and dental students and grow much needed jobs in our economy.” While she cites the current economic climate as the primary reason for her non-support, she says the issue should be reconsidered once the economic picture has begun to improve.

Although the governor opposes funding the new hospital as being too expensive for now, the plan calls for a relatively smaller expense over the upcoming biennium mainly spent in hospital design. It is important to note that the overall economics of funding a new hospital are highly favorable and suggest that our proposal will serve as a catalyst to the Connecticut economy. Our economic analysis shows that our proposal pays for itself twice over while creating thousands of jobs.

Although there are many hurdles to overcome in the weeks ahead, there is support in the General Assembly to further discuss the proposal. I am happy to report that the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee today voted to move forward a bill concerning the proposal.

We certainly respect the governor’s stance as these are extraordinarily challenging times, but as I have said in the past, we must embrace the vision for the future, and not let the problems of the present or fears borne of the past cause us to falter as we work to achieve our goal. We will continue our advocacy for the proposal while doing all that we can to strengthen the Health Center’s current academic, clinical, and financial standing.

Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean, School of Medicine