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June 14, 2022

Surgeries halted at Johnson Memorial Hospital

Courtesy photo Johnson Memorial Hospital

Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford has temporarily halted inpatient and outpatient surgeries due to a staffing shortage, a hospital spokesperson said in a statement.

The pause in surgeries began on June 9. The hospital, owned by Trinity Health of New England, plans to “safely resume surgical services as soon as possible” in Stafford, spokeswoman Mary Orr said in a statement.

It is unclear how long it will take before surgery can resume at Johnson Memorial Hospital, located at 201 Chestnut Hill Road.

Orr declined to comment on why the hospital is facing a staffing shortage in its operating rooms.

Meanwhile, patients are being sent to other hospitals for surgical care.

In the statement, Orr wrote that the “large majority of patients requiring outpatient surgery” would be treated at Johnson Surgery Center in Enfield, which is also owned by Trinity Health.

Patients requiring inpatient surgery would be transported to another Trinity Health-owned hospital, Orr said.

In addition to Johnson Memorial, Trinity Health also owns Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford and Mercy Medical Center in Springfield.

Orr wrote in her statement that transferring patients requiring inpatient surgery to other hospitals “allows for uninterrupted, continuity of care for all patients who were and may be impacted by the pause.”

Orr also said that Johnson Memorial would follow all necessary and required protocols to notify the appropriate state agencies of the sudden change in service.

According to the state Office of Health Strategy website, the hospital has not applied for a certificate of need. Health care providers must apply and state approval given whenever they make major changes, such as discontinuing medical services. A public hearing is also usually held during the application process to ensure that residents have a chance to weigh in.

Last year, Trinity Health of New England was found in violation of state law after Johnson Memorial closed its birthing unit without proper state approval. The birthing unit had first been closed in 2020 with state approval, but when the previously suspended regulations to provide healthcare was restored in 2021, Johnson Memorial failed to apply for a certificate of need when it again closed the maternity ward.

Stafford local elected officials did not return calls seeking comment for this story.

The health care field accounts for 16% of the state’s total workforce, and nurses and certified nursing assistants are in high demand.

In late 2020, the Governor’s Workforce Council estimated the state’s registered nurse (RN) workforce was roughly 50,000, more than half of whom were over the age of 50 — many of whom have retired or left the healthcare industry during the pandemic. There were “significant shortages” in health care workers, the council reported, estimating an annual need of 3,000 new RNs and 2,500 openings for certified nursing assistants.

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