Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

June 17, 2019

Senator Anwar Leads Numerous Lawmakers and Healthcare Professionals to Fight for Cardiac Laboratory at Manchester Memorial Hospital

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-East Hartford) led more than a dozen local Senators, Representatives, Mayors, patients and healthcare professionals in calling for the development of an on-site cardiac laboratory at Manchester Memorial Hospital. The call came in response to the June 10 denial of Manchester Memorial Hospital’s application to establish a cardiac catheterization laboratory released by the Office of Health Strategy, which said the laboratory would not benefit health in the region. Sen. Anwar and his colleagues strongly oppose that decision, advocating for its potential health benefits east of the Connecticut River.

“Timing is everything when it comes to blocked arteries providing blood flow to the heart. We know from published data that intervention time is associated with good outcomes,” said Sen. Anwar. “If an individual is managed immediately, they will do better. The longer it takes for arteries to open leads to higher risk of death. We also know towns east of the Connecticut River have a higher risk of cardiac death than the state average. We feel this is related to timing of intervention, and we have learned the time it takes to get from Eastern Connecticut to Hartford is growing. Between traffic accidents on Interstate 84 and events in the city, this leads to delays in care and worsens changes for survival. We must provide equal levels of care to all of our citizens. Citizens in Eastern Connecticut are not getting timely interventions, and we stand united to make our voices heard – if this plan is blocked, up to 200 more people may die than if it were to go through. Today, we stood together to be on the record that we are against the Office of Health Strategy’s decision.”

“This is an important day for us. I’m sick and tired of the east of the river being treated as second-class citizens,” said State Senator Steve Cassano (D-Manchester), who responded to the OHS denial citing a 10-minute commute from Manchester to Hartford as a reason for the decision. “I’ve been driving to the Capitol for nine years, and even on Saturday mornings, I still can’t be there from 10 minutes. None of us can make it within 10 minutes, let alone in a medical emergency. It is a slight to this region. If we have to address it, we will. This is wrong. It’s a poor decision. Let’s do it right. Hopefully they’ll look, hear, listen and do the right thing.”

“The denial of essential cardiac services needed in this community is of great concern to me and my fellow cardiologists. This proposal is the ideal way to satisfy the need for addressing the number one cause of mortality in our community, heart disease,” said Saqib Naseer, President of Medical Staff for Prospect Eastern CT Health Network and a practicing cardiologist. “The program Manchester and St. Francis proposed will improve access to care, resulting in excellent outcomes and costing less to patients and the system. The decision by the state is short-sighted and does not consider demand for services here. My patients with heart attacks are subsequently transported to care centers for interventions. That wastes time. Patients from other areas are brought to other centers as well. That also wastes time. It is a very big deal in a situation where every second and minute counts; when someone is having a heart attack, they’re losing muscle every second. If their life depends on that, they could die; damage to the heart muscle can impact quality of life and increase cost of health services. I urge the OHS to reconsider and approve this application; my colleagues and I recognize and know the need for these services every day.”

Lynne Gustafson and Chris Didden, both cardiac patients who have had heart attacks in the past and received treatment at Manchester Memorial Hospital, both spoke Monday to advocate for the center. Both Gustafson and Didden cited lost time as one of the biggest issues with their care during their cardiac emergencies.

Joining Sen. Anwar and Sen. Cassano were a number of bipartisan officials, including Manchester Mayor Jay Moran, Vernon Mayor and State Senator Dan Champagne, Prospect ECHN cardiologist Dr. Danny Korkmaz, State Representative Mike Winkler, State Representative Tim Ackert, State Representative Tom Delnicki, State Representative Jeff Currey, South Windsor Mayor Andrew Paterna and Ellington First Selectman Lori Spielman.

Late last year, Manchester Memorial Hospital applied to establish a cardiac laboratory at its site as an expansion of its heart-related services. Hospital officials sought to establish new services including cardiac catherization and coronary intervention services, working in partnership with St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center’s Hoffman Heart and Vascular Institute. A key part of its services would be percutaneous coronary intervention, a non-surgical procedure that opens blocked arteries using a catheter. Manchester Memorial Hospital has said the service expansion would fill a void in potentially life-saving cardiac services east of Hartford.

While a number of physicians and community leaders advocated in support of the cardiac lab earlier this year at a public hearing, the Office of Health Strategy denied the application in a June 10 decision, claiming the program wouldn’t improve residents’ access to care or improve current quality of patient care.

Leaders dispute that decision, arguing that while two Hartford hospitals provide similar services, the proposed service area, which includes Ashford, Andover, Bolton, Coventry, Colombia, East Hartford, Ellington, Glastonbury, Hebron, Manchester, Mansfield, Somers, South Windsor, Stafford, Tolland, Union, Vernon and Willington, does not currently have regionalized, local access to such cardiac services, and patients seeking care would be forced to leave the region for that care.

Just as important, a significant number of towns and cities east of the Connecticut River see higher rates of death from heart disease than the state average. Vernon, South Windsor, East Hartford, Ashford, East Windsor, Stafford and Union all see higher average death rates than the state average for both ischemic heart disease, which involves restriction in blood supply, and acute myocardial infarctions, which involves a blockage of blood flow.

Additionally, they said, Interstate 84 experiences, on average, two to three accidents per day. With city traffic taken into account with these crashes, the ten-mile trip to Hartford can take twice or even three times as long; in a medical emergency, where every second matters, that can mean the difference between life and death.

Hospital data further shows the longer it takes an individual to receive treatment for one of these procedures, the more likely that individual may die from lack of treatment. Professionals seek to have a patient receive treatment within 90 minutes; when that number grows, the rate of deaths spikes.

Gathered officials supported an appeal and oral argument on the OHS decision proposed by Manchester Memorial and St. Francis, which must be filed by July 1.