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Community group concerned over potential hospital merger's impact on access to reproductive health

Day Kimball Healthcare is looking to become a part of Covenant Health, a Catholic health network.

PUTNAM, Conn. — A group in Connecticut’s quiet corner is trying to put a stop to a proposed hospital merger.

Day Kimball Healthcare is looking to become a part of Covenant Health, a Catholic health network.

Some are concerned that would mean restrictions to certain types of care.

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"They would have to follow all of the ethical religious directives of the Catholic church which would include limitations of reproductive rights," said Jane Newell of Woodstock.

The group “Save DKH” has held protests in the past but the one on Monday evening, the day after the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade had a specific message.

"We’re basically pointing out there’s a lot more to lose than roe v wade and if the state of Connecticut wants to be a sanctuary state for women this deal has to be stopped," Newell said.

Advocates said other things like gender-affirming care and some end-of-life care could also be impacted.

"A lot of people are going to feel pretty trapped in situations if they don’t have access to a lot of these services," said Ian McDonald of Killingly.

Largely because there is no other hospital nearby and many primary care physicians in the area are also part of the healthcare system.

"Where will they go? How will they get this absolutely essential healthcare?" said Maggie Martin of Woodstock. "We’re not in an urban area where we have a couple of choices where people could go to a secular hospital or a catholic hospital, we have no choice," she said.

Worrying some that the Northeast corner could become a healthcare desert of sorts.

"We feel like we’re being given a little bit of a false choice, that either we give up all of these rights. Reproductive, birth control, some end of life care or we’re going to lose the hospital," McDonald said.

The state still has to approve the acquisition in order for it to take place and the next step is a hearing in front of the Office of Healthcare Strategy.

In a joint statement, Day Kimball Healthcare and Covenant Health said:

"We look forward to providing details related to our proposed affiliation with Covenant Health at our upcoming hearing. We have submitted all requested details to the Office of Healthcare Strategy, and they have deemed our application complete. The next step in the process is our formal hearing, which is being scheduled by the Office of Healthcare Strategy."

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at mmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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