Windham Hospital highlights achievements and path to future at 2016 annual meeting

January 20, 2016 By Shawn Mawhiney

Completing a community health needs assessment and developing a community health improvement plan to address the region’s top health concerns -- including the establishment of the Center for Healthy Aging -- were highlights of fiscal year 2015 for Windham Community Memorial Hospital.

Windham Hospital held its annual meeting of its Board of Corporators at Eastern Connecticut State University on Wednesday, Jan. 20. To learn more visit Windham Hospital’s online annual report at

“Despite multi-million dollar losses on a yearly basis, our affiliation with Hartford HealthCare has allowed us to continue to invest in the people, places and things that are crucial to a successful healthcare organization, and which allows us to meet the healthcare needs of our community,” said Karla Fox, Chair of Hartford HealthCare’s East Region Board of Directors which represents Windham, Backus and Natchaug hospitals. “I am confident that Windham Hospital is positioned well and on the right path to sustainability.”

In 2015, Windham Hospital conducted the needs assessment—a scientifically valid telephone survey that consisted of 579 individuals ages 18 and older, along with interviews with key community partners and stakeholders in the hospital’s service area—determining the hospital and its partners would focus on developing strategies to address mental health, substance use, nutrition, physical activity, weight management, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, access to care, cancer and respiratory diseases. With the results of the assessment the hospital has developed a community health improvement plan that includes growth of ambulatory services; expansion of community outreach screenings and education programs; leveraging Hartford Healthcare’s resources and its alliance with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to improve access and care for cancer patients; and improving access to mental health services.

Two examples of this include embedding high risk case managers in primary care settings, and the establishment of a Center for Healthy Aging, which was recently added at Windham Hospital and will include mental health services, nutrition, exercise and other services for the elderly population. Seniors and their families can access the center by calling toll-free 877-424-4641.

“Windham Hospital will address the issues using a community-wide, collaborative approach. Improvement of health outcomes will be achieved through partnership, access and coordination strategies, with consistent measurement to ensure that we are making progress,” said Janette Edwards, Regional Director of Planning and Business Development.

Vice President of Operations and Clinical Services Cary Trantalis updated the board, corporators, and staff on the hospital’s cornerstone services plan, which includes cardiology, oncology, women’s health, diagnostic imaging, short stay inpatient care, emergency care and other coordinated services on the campus and nearby.

“This is an example of how we want to think in the future – how can we best utilize Windham Hospital’s footprint in new and innovative ways? How can we improve the health of our community through the ‘Triple Aim’, which is offering high quality, affordable, customer focused care?” Trantalis said.

Former Windham Hospital president and newly named Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer for Hartford HealthCare Dave Whitehead said a continued national trend of declining patient volume, state cuts, and payor pressures contributed to a loss of $4.4 million dollars in FY2015. Based on net revenues of $196.3 million, that yields a negative operating margin of 2.24%.

“While financial losses at Windham Hospital have totaled more than $25 million in the past five years, this year’s loss is better than our projected $8 million shortfall for FY2015. This is the result of a lot of hard work by our leadership and our talented and dedicated staff,” Whitehead said. “Still, the fact is, Windham Hospital is considered one of only two “distressed hospitals” by the State of Connecticut; continues to deal with declining inpatient volume, with a decrease in average daily inpatient census and increased competition; and in a state that is struggling financially and will likely continue to look to hospitals and healthcare to balance a weakening economic model.”

Elliot Joseph, Hartford HealthCare’s President and Chief Executive Officer, thanked the board, leaders and staff for their efforts to continue Windham Hospital’s transformation and positioning it as a leader in providing care to the community.

“It’s mighty hard work. Change always is. But I am profoundly proud of the efforts you are making, on behalf of this community, to transform Windham Hospital into a sustainable force for good — a community cornerstone that is rooted in tradition but not bound by the past,” Joseph said.

Joseph introduced new Windham Hospital President and Hartford HealthCare Senior Vice President Bimal Patel, who assumed his new role in December.

“My promise tonight is to work closely with our board, physicians, hospital staff, leadership team and the community. We together will ensure a sustainable healthcare delivery system that includes Windham, Backus, Natchaug and all of Hartford Healthcare,” Patel said. “Windham will be a major piece of this delivery system, as we determine the very best way to meet the needs of our community.

Other highlights in FY 2015 included:

  • The hospital continued improvements in the areas of quality, patient safety and the patient experience consistently demonstrating 90% or better for hand washing compliance; going more than 480 days without a serious safety event; and seeing patient complaints drop by 37% and compliments increase 63% from the previous year.
  • Hartford HealthCare Cardiology, the practice that serves Windham Hospital cardiac patients, moved to a regional model in 2015 adding providers to its growing Windham and Norwich practice.
  • The hospital opened the Heart Failure Bridge Clinic to help successfully transition congestive heart failure patients from inpatient care to outpatient and self-care.
  • The hospital’s Diabetes Education Program again received a four-year accreditation from the American Diabetes Association, recognizing quality in diabetes self -management education programs.
  • The Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Windham Hospital, which is part of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, received accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, meaning it offers access to a high standard of cancer care, close to home for patients.
  • The hospital’s Paramedic Program celebrated 20 years of service in 2015. Since its inception, the program has more than doubled in size and provides advanced life-support to towns covering more than 300 square miles in Windham and Tolland counties.
  • The hospital’s Diabetes Education Program again received a four-year accreditation from the American Diabetes Association, recognizing quality in diabetes self -management education programs.
  • The hospital began utilizing new technology in 2015 including piloting the CareConnect electronic health records initiative for Hartford HealthCare’s acute care hospitals, converted to high-tech IV therapy pumps to improve patient safety, and began offering MARTTI patient interpretation service in more than 55 spoken languages 24 hours a day.