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June 4, 2024

Nuvance-Northwell Health merger receives letters of support; Nuvance says it lost over $220M in last 2 years

Contributed (Left to right) Dr. John M. Murphy, president and CEO of Nuvance Health, and Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health.

The state Office of Health Strategy (OHS) has received more than two dozen letters supporting the proposed merger of Nuvance Health, which operates four hospitals in the state, with New York-based Northwell Health.

The 26 letters, which are addressed to OHS Executive Director Deidre Gifford -- Whose title was officially changed to commissioner of OHS under a law recently signed by Gov. Ned Lamont -- are all dated between May 6-28. All 26 say the proposed deal is in the best interest of the region and the state. OHS must approve a Certificate of Need for the merger.

Nuvance Health, which owns Danbury Hospital, Norwalk Hospital, Sharon Hospital and operates Danbury Hospital’s campus in New Milford, announced in late February that it has agreed to merge with Northwell Health to form an integrated, two-state healthcare organization.

Nuvance Health also operates Northern Dutchess Hospital, Putnam Hospital and Vassar Brothers Medical Center in New York. Nuvance has dual headquarters in Danbury and Poughkeepsie, New York.

Pending regulatory approval, it would combine its operations with Northwell Health, which is headquartered in New Hyde Park, New York. Northwell is New York’s largest healthcare provider with 21 hospitals, about 900 outpatient facilities and more than 12,000 affiliated physicians. It has 85,000 employees. 

In its Certificate of Need application, filed May 31, Nuvance states that it has lost “over $220 million dollars [sic] during the last two fiscal years, and projects to lose nearly $150 million dollars [sic] during its current fiscal year.”

Nuvance adds that it has been “unable to dedicate all necessary resources to its facility infrastructure, and certain hospital facilities are in need of prompt remediation to address the risk of infrastructure failure.”

Northwell has said it would make significant investments in Nuvance Health and its facilities if the merger is approved.

The 26 letters of support, which OHS posted online on May 31, come from a variety of stakeholders. They include letters signed by all members of the board of directors for Danbury and New Milford hospitals; Pari Forood, vice chair of the Sharon Hospital board of directors; Curtis Stewart, a member of the Norwalk Hospital board; Dr. Jonathan M. Rosen, director of undergraduate medical education at Nuvance and a pulmonologist at Norwalk Hospital; New Milford Mayor Pete Bass; P.J. Prunty, president & CEO of the Greater Danbury Chamber; leaders of various nonprofit health organizations, and members of the communities served by the hospitals.

Most reflect the sentiments expressed by Frenanda Carvalho, acting director of health for the Danbury Department of Health and Human Services, who wrote that the merger “will bring significant benefits to our region” by combining resources and expertise.

The combination, Carvalho said, has the potential to enhance patient care and healthcare access, strengthen community health initiatives, and produce economic benefits “by creating new job opportunities and attracting healthcare professionals to our area.”

Forood, who also serves as executive director for The Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation, agreed. 

“The affiliation is the right move for our hospital, for Nuvance Health, and for optimal healthcare in our state,” she wrote. “It also meets the goals for healthcare cost containment, maintenance of access to high-quality services, and promotion of healthcare diversity and equitable access to services,”  

OHS has been criticized for the length of its review of Certificate of Need applications, particularly for the 16 months it took to approve Yale New Haven Health’s on-again, off-again deal to acquire state three hospitals owned by Prospect Medical Holdings. 

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