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Updated: July 15, 2019 Health Care

Hartford HealthCare, Trinity College deepen relationship

Photo | MATT PILON Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney with Hartford HealthCare President (and soon to be CEO) Jeffrey Flaks. The two institutions recently inked a student health-services contract.
Matt Pilon

The two largest institutions in Hartford’s South End have long been friendly neighbors and collaborators, but a newly announced arrangement ties them more tightly together.

Under a two-year contract that begins this month, Hartford HealthCare is taking over many of the healthcare services Trinity College provides to its on-campus students.

Hartford HealthCare (HHC) will assume management of the Trinity College Health Center as well as services offered at the college’s Ferris Athletic Center.

The two parties told HBJ that approximately 15 healthcare providers and employees currently on Trinity College’s payroll will become employees of Hartford HealthCare Medical Group.

Officials wouldn’t disclose financial terms of the contract, but Trinity will be paying HHC for its services. The deal could be extended after the initial two-year term expires.

The aim, the two sides said, is for HHC to provide health services to Trinity students at a lower cost than the college has been paying under its own employed-provider model, ultimately providing financial benefits for both the school and the health system.

“Hartford HealthCare is helping to save Trinity money as it can provide these services at a lower cost/group rate than if Trinity had built its own healthcare team from scratch,” the two organizations said in a joint statement.

Another aim is to increase students’ access to specialists. That includes referrals to behavioral-health providers, as well as to orthopedic specialists at Hartford Hospital’s Bone & Joint Institute, a gleaming $150 million facility that opened in late 2016, less than a mile down the road from the college at the health system’s flagship campus.

The new arrangement doesn’t change any current pricing for students, officials said.

The contract also includes HHC physicians staffing Trinity athletic events, with the health system seeking to highlight its team of sports-medicine and health specialists at the Bone & Joint Institute.

Drew Galbraith, Trinity’s athletics director, said the deal promises “a little bit more speed and a little bit more priority” for injured student athletes looking to see a surgeon or specialist.

Earlier this spring, Trinity College’s athletics contract with Connecticut Children’s Medical Center expired.

“The single biggest difference, when I look at it strictly from the sports-medicine side, is active access to additional resources,” Galbraith said of the HHC deal.

It’s unclear how many U.S. colleges similarly contract out their health-services operations, rather than employ their own in-house team of providers, but it’s not entirely uncommon.

For example, Albion College in Michigan, Kean University in New Jersey, and Elon University in North Carolina are among those that have partnered in recent years with some mix of area hospitals, medical groups or urgent care centers to provide student healthcare services.

Meantime, the Trinity-HHC arrangement is the latest in a long line of collaborations.

The two have long been stakeholders, along with Connecticut Children’s, in the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance, which works to improve surrounding neighborhoods through homeownership incentives, streetscape improvements and other programs.

In 2017, the two forged a partnership that sends up to 20 students from Trinity’s neuroscience program to conduct research at Hartford Hospital.

Earlier this year, HHC and Trinity announced they would be collaborating on a new accelerator program, located in Hartford’s Constitution Plaza, for digital-health startups.

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