GREENFIELD, Mass. and PALMER, Mass. and WESTFIELD, Mass., June 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The state Department of Public Health will hold public hearings this week on Baystate Health's proposed closure of intensive care units in Westfield and Palmer – a proposal that along with Baystate's plan to eliminate mental health beds at three community hospitals has drawn strong opposition from nurses, advocates, patients and elected officials.
The Greenfield City Council also plans to vote this week on a resolution urging Baystate Heath to preserve the acute inpatient mental health unit at Baystate Franklin Medical Center. Baystate seeks to close that unit, along with mental health beds at Noble and Wing hospitals, while opening a for-profit facility in Holyoke.
Baystate Wing Hospital DPH ICU Hearing
Tuesday, June 18
Snow Conference Room, Baystate Wing Hospital, 40 Wright St. in Palmer.
Baystate Noble Hospital DPH ICU Hearing
Wednesday, June 19
Westfield Middle School, 30 West Silver St. in Westfield.
Greenfield City Council Vote on Resolution
Wednesday, June 19
John Zon Community Center at 35 Pleasant St. in Greenfield.
"The ICUs at Noble and Wing are a vital part of those hospitals and the communities they serve," said Donna Kelly-Williams, RN and president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. "Many patients rely on the ICU – patients who need the critical care at the moment they need it. Minutes, even seconds, count when a patient requires ICU-level care."
The resolution before the Greenfield City Council speaks to the need for local inpatient mental health services. It notes that "Hospitalization rates for mental disorders (including substance abuse) in Franklin County were nearly 50% more than the state" and that "Franklin County residents experience poor mental health at a higher rate than the statewide average." The resolution concludes:
Whereas, Baystate has consistently promoted the notion that they are committed to keep care local;
Whereas, there is no other inpatient psychiatric unit in Franklin County that has the ability to treat patients with co-morbidities;
Whereas, losing the mental health unit in Greenfield would be a critical and catastrophic loss for the entire community and only increase the current problems we face;
Therefore, be it resolved that the Greenfield City Council Urge Baystate Health to PRESERVE the Acute Inpatient Mental Health Unit at Baystate Franklin Medical Center.
A growing coalition is working to preserve all of these essential services. Public forums were held earlier this year in Greenfield and Westfield about the mental health closures and advocates are planning more actions to urge Baystate to keep care local. At the state level, MNA nurses and numerous lawmakers are supporting a bill -- An Act Relative to the Closing of Hospital Essential Services, (H. 1139/S. 672) – to strengthen our existing hospital closure law.
"Baystate's proposed ICU and mental health closures are part of a long and harmful trend in the hospital industry," Kelly-Williams said. "The elimination of essential hospital services has a profound negative effect on the care of patients and puts a strain on other, already overburdened health systems. The public deserves a stronger voice in these decisions."
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.