SOUTHINGTON - The Southington Town Council voted to sign a resolution Monday that unwaveringly states their support for emergency services remaining at The Bradley Memorial Campus of the Hospital of Central Connecticut.
Members of the Community Committee to Save Bradley completely packed the seats at the municipal center. More seats even had to be brought out. They waited patiently for the council’s decision and several spoke after press deadline.
The group has been protesting Hartford HealthCare and fighting to keep services at the hospital for four years. It was established and spearheaded by resident Bonnie Sica.
Hartford HealthCare’s Central Region President Gary Havican made his case to the council at the start of the public comment portion of the meeting. He has previously argued that the nature of care delivery is “evolving.” He has argued care is trending toward decreased length of hospital stays and an increased focus on specialized services and ambulatory care. Bradley, he said, does not see enough use to provide optimal care.
“The current model is unsustainable,” he said. “Bradley is seeing fewer than four patients on average a day and last week there were three days in a row where there were less than two admissions. We need to embrace the changing face of health care and evolve with it.”
Fire Commission Chair Michael Bunko also introduced the new fire chief, Richard Butler, to the community.
“He has extensive educational and work experience and was an excellent candidate,” said Bunko. “We have already had numerous conversations about how to move the department forward. We had a three-and-a-half hour meeting last Thursday and nobody fell asleep. We are all incredibly energetic and excited.”
Butler was unanimously selected by the Southington Fire Department and Fire Commission June 21. His first day was Aug. 1.
Butler was an appointed a member of the Maryland Emergency Response Commission before taking the chief position. He also taught firefighting, management, rescue and EMS classes at The Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute.
“Coming in here people spoke of me like I would be the savior of the department,” said Butler. “That’s not my role. My job is to make sure there is a better cooperative effort between our volunteer and career firefighters. This is an outstanding organization with a lot of dedicated members who proudly serve the community. I look forward to moving the department forward and everyone in town should be proud of our firefighters.”
The council also announced the introduction of a “property tax relief committee.”
Council Chairman Chris Palmieri explained that former finance director James Bowes, currently the Wallingford comptroller, will head the committee. It will include town employees, Town council members, and Board of Education and Board of Finance members. The committee will try to find ways to ease the burden of veterans and longtime residents on a fixed income.
Palmieri noted that the town is also actively looking for a tenant for the grounds of Lincoln College of New England, which announced it is closing.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.