February 16, 2018

Group, UMass to hold meeting on Clinton hospital endoscopy closure

Courtesy of HealthAlliance Hospital
Deborah Weymouth, president and CEO of HealthAlliance Hospital, said a staffing issue has necessitated a closure of the endoscopy unit at UMass' Clinton Hospital.

A state legislator is planning a community forum with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to hear community concerns about the loss of services at UMass Memorial HealthAlliance - Clinton Hospital.

State Rep. Harold Naughton (D-Clinton) is hosting the forum on Tuesday at Clinton Town Hall, a response to the hospital's decision to close its endoscopy service.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association last month argued the closure is in violation of state DPH regulations that require DPH approval to end certain services.

"This closing is the latest in a series of service losses at the hospital since 2015, including the elimination of outpatient surgery/operating room, nuclear stress tests; interventional radiology procedures and infusion center services such as IV medication administration, IV antibiotics, blood transfusions and phlebotomy, which are essential for providing local treatment of cancer and other conditions," MNA said in a press release Friday announcing the forum.

MNA claims the hospital's CEO Deborah Weymouth said last month the hospital would delay the closing to allow for DPH's review, but has since reneged on that commitment and has pursued closure of the service.

The DPH, however, didn't intervene because the service didn't qualify as an essential service, Weymouth said in a statement, citing a letter from the DPH.

The hospital is holding its own meeting on Wednesday at Chocksett Inn in Sterling to get input from the community about necessary services.

Eight employees are affected by the closure, UMass said.

Last month, UMass Memorial Health Care said the service would end due to staffing changes.

"We are confident we have complied with all DPH requirements as well as other applicable laws and regulations," UMass said in a statement. "We strive to align our programs and resources carefully. Our No. 1 goal is meeting the health needs of our community in a sustainable manner now and into the future."

In a statement with the MNA press release, Naughton said the community does not want to see the hospital die by a thousand cuts.

"We have called this forum to allow DPH and Health Alliance officials to hear from this community how important these services are to their health and well-being in the hopes that efforts can be made to preserve and enhance services," he said.

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