CT: Nurse To Take State Agency's Reins Of Health Care Access Office

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Heffernan Chosen To Run Health Care Access Office

August 15, 2002

HILARY WALDMAN, Courant Staff Writer


Mary Heffernan, who started as a staff nurse and worked her way into the top ranks of the administration at Bridgeport Hospital, has been named commissioner of the state Office of Health Care Access.

Gov. John G. Rowland cited her extensive experience as a psychiatric nurse as a unique qualification to run the agency that must approve plans for the expansion or reduction of services at the state's 31 acute-care hospitals.

"Mary has demonstrated a strong commitment to improving access to health care, and I am confident she will tackle the challenges of today's health care system with enthusiasm and dedication," Rowland said in a prepared statement.

Last year, Heffernan left Bridgeport Hospital, where her last position was director of planning and government relations, to head the Health Systems Development unit at the Office of Health Care Access. She has served as acting commissioner since Raymond J. Gorman stepped down earlier this summer.

Although Rowland proposed eliminating the hospital-regulation office in his first budget proposal last February, he said he is now committed to maintaining it as an independent agency.

Heffernan, 42, who lives in Weston, is married and the mother of a 2-year-old daughter

Heffernan said she expects hospitals and other health care providers to begin coming up with novel approaches to providing care that might reduce costs while continuing to provide necessary services.

"Technology does not have to happen within the four walls of a hospital," Heffernan said in an interview Wednesday from her office in Hartford. "New models are going to emerge." Her agency will be among the first to evaluate those models and determine if they will indeed improve the public's health.

Heffernan's appointment is subject to confirmation by the General Assembly.

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