Public Comment to Department of Health Re: St. Peter's Health Partners and Ellis Medicine
The NYCLU, a member of the Schenectady Coalition for Healthcare Access, is concerned about the potential loss of services and local control of Schenectady’s community hospital under the planned merger of Ellis Medicine, including Bellevue Woman’s Center, the Capital Region’s only inpatient hospital providing dedicated care to women and infants, with SPHP and its Michigan-based parent system, Trinity Health. Ellis leadership has quietly negotiated the MSA with SPHP officials behind closed doors, declining invitations to participate in a community forum and rejecting the Coalition’s requests for a copy of the MSA. Instead of submitting a Certificate of Need (“CON”) application allowing for public review, Ellis and SPHP have chosen a process shrouded in secrecy, foreclosing any meaningful community engagement. If the MSA is approved and implemented, it may be difficult to stop a complete merger between Ellis and SPHP once a full CON application is submitted – even if serious concerns surface at that time, or to ensure that any future agreement provides for adequate avenues to preserve health care for Schenectady County residents. This is particularly true given that Ellis and SPHP are simultaneously moving forward with a plan for SPHP to directly employ Ellis’ physicians – a transaction that requires no Department of Health review.