Panel: Milford hospital has ‘significant improvements’ since 2019 merger, with millions invested

MILFORD — The past two years have been transformative for Milford’s hospital, but the upgrades are just getting started, according to hospital officials.

“The acquisition was June 2019, and the investments to date are over $100 million, $83 million of that was the purchase price,” said Milford Campus Bridgeport Hospital President Anne Diamond.

The remaining $17 million went toward ongoing investments in infrastructure, equipment and technology, she said.

Information on the changes was shared in a forum featuring discussions about the status of the hospital’s 2019 integration with Bridgeport Hospital. Under the new plan, Milford Hospital became Milford Campus Bridgeport Hospital, a fully integrated campus of Bridgeport Hospital, which is a member of the Yale New Haven Health system.

Before the acquisition, Milford Hospital faced challenges that included limited cash flow, delayed capital investments, technology gaps, loss of physician and patient volume to competitors, and staff turnover, Diamond said. Since then, the hospital has worked to regain procedural and inpatient volume, improved its operating margin and community investment and support, she said.

“As a hospital and as a system, we have successfully navigated this integration through really a very challenging time,” said Diamond.

Chief Operating Office Pam Scagliarini said, for example, technological upgrades have included a second Mako, which is a robotic device used in orthopedic surgery. The hospital also is getting a new CT scanner later this year.

“I’m proud that we have invested so much in the Milford Campus in terms of enhancing the clinical technology,” she said. “We have made significant improvements in the infrastructure and expansion in the facility, as well as investing in many clinical growth plans. And, quite frankly, we are just getting started.”

In addition, being part of the Yale system means the Milford Campus has access to specialized, higher level care, according to Joubin Bavarian, vice president of operations.

“Our vision is to not only meet all the healthcare needs of the community we serve but also to provide specialized age-friendly care to the older patients in our region,” said Bavarian.

Milford spokesperson Karen Kpifer said the hospital’s struggles were due in part to declining patient volume and low reimbursement rates for care.

In 2014, financial issues led Milford Hospital to develop a collaborative relationship with Yale New Haven Hospital and Bridgeport Hospital. The merger between Milford and Bridgeport was in the works since 2018, when both hospitals issued a joining statement about the possible merger.

In 2019, the state approved the unification of the Bridgeport Hospital and Milford Hospital.

During the forum, Jeanne O’Donnell, of B. Riley Advisory Services, said Yale New Haven Health was in compliance with all the reporting conditions that were part of the settlement agreement between the hospitals.

O’Donnell said the Milford Campus had upgraded the lobbies on the first and second floors and included cosmetic upgrades that reflected social distancing protocols, and repainting curbs and access ramps for added patient safety.

The renovation also added a one-stop pre-admission space for patient convenience.

“This also supported age-friendly and patient safety as the patient no longer had to visit two or three separate departments to complete their testing,” O’Donnell said.

Despite the COVID pandemic, O’Donnell said improvements at the Milford Campus have been steady.

“They were largely unthwarted in the advancement of expanding and adding various clinical service lines,” said O’Donnell. “We just think that had to be pointed out that they’re doing just a great job.”