August 28, 2017
Reporter's Notebook

Middlesex Hospital on track for fall shoreline expansion

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
Middlesex Hospital recently paid $3.8 million for this Elekta Infinity linear accelerator.

Middletown's Middlesex Hospital has expanded the footprint of a $28 million facility it built several years ago in Westbrook.

Come mid-fall, the hospital's Shoreline Medical Center will provide radiation therapy to cancer patients, using a newly installed $2.6 million linear accelerator. It's housed in a 4,000-square-foot addition that cost another $1.2 million to build.

CEO Vincent Capece Jr. said he expects the investment to positively impact Middlesex's relatively strong bottom line, but that isn't the main focus.

"The focus of this is not financial, it's about bringing services closer to patients and improving service," Capece said.

The state approval process, which wrapped up last year, was contentious, with Yale New Haven Health challenging the need for another linear accelerator in the region.

Middlesex Hospital ultimately prevailed.

Cancer care has become an increasingly competitive service line for Connecticut hospitals in recent years.

Middlesex, Hartford HealthCare, St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, St. Vincent's and Bristol Hospital have all affiliated their cancer programs with larger academic hospitals, which they say brings the latest innovations as well as a marketing boost.

"I think everyone sees it as an important service line," Capece said. "It cuts across a lot of things we do. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, there is a whole host of services they require and need."

Middlesex's $3.8 million shoreline expansion is a small piece of its annual $30 million capital budget.

The independent hospital has posted positive operating income since at least 2008. In 2016, it posted record operating revenue of $418 million, which Capece credited in part to higher patient volume driven by the Shoreline facility, which opened in 2014.

Capece said Middlesex understands that being part of a larger system would have benefits, and the hospital has evaluated some opportunities. But it's staying independent, at least for now, he said.

Middlesex is, however, part of the Value Care Alliance, which includes various independent hospitals that contract for population health data management software, medical equipment management and supply purchasing.

Capece said the total shared savings for member hospitals are at least several million so far, though he did not have an exact figure.

– Matt Pilon

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