High Senate Democrat backs updates to hospital closure guidelines as Leominster maternity unit plans to shutter

High Senate Democrat backs updates to hospital closure guidelines as Leominster maternity unit plans to shutter

State lawmakers testify on the State Home on Tuesday in assist of laws that may put new guidelines on hospitals trying to shut. Within the first row, from proper to left, state Reps. John Cronin, Natalie Higgins, and Mike Kushmerek. Within the second row, from proper to left, state Reps. Kimberly Ferguson and Jonathan Zlotnik. (Chris Van Buskirk/Boston Herald)

The highest Senate Democrat on well being care financing expressed assist Tuesday for altering the foundations round state-licensed hospital closures and supplied to succeed in out to the pinnacle of UMass Memorial Well being Care to debate the closure of a birthing middle in Leominster.

Greater than 40 hospitals or well being care items have closed in Massachusetts since 2009, based on the most important nurses union within the state. State legislation is “failing to satisfy this second of disaster” for sufferers and caregivers, the Massachusetts Nurses Affiliation stated, which is backing a bill on Beacon Hill that may put extra guidelines in place for hospitals trying to shut their doorways.

Sen. Cindy Friedman, the Senate chair of the Well being Care Financing Committee, stated she thinks it’s “crucial and cheap” to grasp what was behind the choice to shut the Leominster birthing middle, which is run by the UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital.

And Friedman stated she helps altering the way in which the state handles dedication of want, or the legal guidelines and rules governing substantial adjustments in providers at well being care services. The Arlington Democrat stated she is going to have a look at the payments backed by the nurses affiliation “to see if they really will do what we would like them to do.”

“It’s positively clear that we have to repair this,” Friedman informed the Herald after a multi-hour listening to on the State Home. “We’ve got to repair it as a result of I don’t consider that our dedication of want course of displays what’s occurring in healthcare right now, and we have to replace it.”

UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital introduced final month it deliberate to shut its maternity unit in Leominster on Sept. 22 due to “industry-wide workforce challenges” which have made it troublesome to totally workers the ward, hospital president Steve Roach stated.

Roach stated UMass supplied discover to the Division of Public Well being and “all applicable events” as required beneath state legislation. Sufferers can proceed to obtain obstetrics care and ship throughout the UMass Memorial Well being Heart at UMass Memorial Medical Heart in Worcester.

“This was an particularly troublesome resolution for our well being system, as our compassionate caregivers have helped hundreds of fogeys and households navigate the birthing journey and welcome new family members into their lives for thus many a long time,” Roach stated in a press release.

The choice to shut the birthing middle has sparked an outcry from native lawmakers, neighborhood members, and nurses who work on the hospital.

Amy Gagnon has labored as a nurse on the birthing middle in Leominster for greater than 12 years and stated she is “outraged” by the plan to shut a vital service within the space. Over the previous 10 years, 10 maternity items have closed in Massachusetts, she stated.

“This closure, if allowed to undergo, could have a devastating impression on the households in my neighborhood, notably economically deprived residents who lack the flexibility to journey lengthy distances to obtain care in Worcester,” she informed lawmakers Tuesday. “It might imply moms might be delivering in our already busy emergency room, which doesn’t have the suitable workers, abilities, or assets to supply the care these moms and infants want.

The Massachusetts Nurses Affiliation desires lawmakers to advance laws from Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Ed Coppinger that may lengthen from six months to at least one yr the official discover interval Division of Public Well being licensed hospitals want to provide the state earlier than a closure or discontinuation of well being providers.

The extra discover time provides communities extra time to weigh in on potential closures and the consequences it could have on healthcare service in a municipality, stated Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik, a Democrat from Gardner.

Six months shouldn’t be sufficient time for communities to hunt out state assets, arrange, make counterarguments, collect knowledge, or put together for different outcomes, he stated.

“That’s why this invoice is so essential, as a result of, once more, anybody who’s been via this is aware of how essential that point is when it comes to addressing these points and making an attempt to save lots of these providers in our neighborhood,” he stated.

A Division of Public Well being spokesperson didn’t reply to a request for remark.

The proposal directs the legal professional basic to hunt an injunction to maintain “important well being service(s)” working through the discover interval. It will additionally require hospitals proposing a closure or discontinuation of providers to supply “proof of getting given discover” to affected municipalities, based on the invoice textual content.

The invoice additionally bars hospitals from making use of for a license or increasing for 3 years from when well being providers are discontinued or a facility is closed. And the laws prohibits closure of beds, items or services throughout a declared state of emergency pertaining to well being care just like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peter McConarty, a household physician who has labored in Fitchburg for 38 years, together with on the UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital, stated the choice to shut the maternity ward in Leominster with solely 4 months’ discover is “inhumane, at greatest.”

“That’s lower than the length of a being pregnant,” he informed lawmakers. “I imply, my goodness, that implies that folks in the midst of their pregnancies are going to be making an attempt to determine the place they’re going to go to soundly have their child.”

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