HOLYOKE, Mass., Aug. 27, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- MNA nurses and healthcare professionals who are part of a large coalition of patients, families, providers, advocates and elected officials fighting to preserve local behavioral health care in Greenfield, Palmer and Westfield called on Baystate Health to dissolve its partnership with US HealthVest following a Seattle Times investigation into the for-profit company and Baystate's decision to "review" its partnership with the company.
According to the Times, US HealthVest, a national behavioral health provider, has brought to Washington State "a model proven to deliver profits that has routinely failed vulnerable patients." The investigation details patient neglect, fraudulent documentation of care, dangerous staffing levels and even an assault linked to cost savings efforts.
"Anyone with an interest in safe, quality behavioral health care in Western Massachusetts should immediately read Public Crisis, Private Toll," said Donna Stern, a psychiatric nurse at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield and a board member of the MNA. "Our coalition, made up of stakeholders throughout the region, has repeatedly urged Baystate to preserve local inpatient mental health units. Closing them will make it harder for patients to access quality care, recover close to their loved ones and connect with local resources. Now we also know, unfortunately, that many of our concerns about Baystate opening a for-profit facility with US HealthVest were well-founded."
US HealthVest partnered with Baystate Health earlier this year to build a for-profit behavioral health facility in Holyoke. Baystate also plans to close all of the mental health beds at its community hospitals in Greenfield, Palmer and Westfield.
"The absolute minimum our society demands of healthcare providers is that patients remain safe inside a hospital," Stern said. "Our nurses and healthcare professionals advocate every single day for patient safety. To think that a corporation would come into our community, open a facility designed to squeeze profits and mistreat patients the way the Seattle Times found US HealthVest did in many hospitals is inconceivable."
"Baystate has announced plans to 'review' its partnership with US HealthVest," Stern said. "Baystate should immediately dissolve its partnership and move forward in a way that preserves and improves behavioral health care at its community hospitals. Every patient deserves dignity, safety and quality care. No patient deserves to suffer because profits came first."
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.
SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association