Great letter from a Pediatrician in Today's Taunton Gazette Opposing the Closing of the Pediatric Unit at Steward Morton Hospital
Nurses are not alone in their opposition to the proposed closing of the Pediatric Unit at Steward-Morton Hospital as evidenced by this powerful letter from a respected pediatrician who has admitted patients to the unit for decades. This is a must read. In fact, the entire community is rising up to oppose this cold-hearted decision by Wall Street giant Cerberus-Steward to close this unit and deprive Greater Taunton’s children of the care they need. Those who want to join the fight can attend a DPH public hearing on the closing, which is schedule for this Friday, April 19 at 2 p.m. at the Taunton Public Library. if you can’t attend the hearing we are urging people to make calls to the following officials to voice their support for keeping this essential service open.
DPH Assistant Director of Regulatory Affairs Sherman Lohnes at 617- 753-8160 or email him at Sherman.Lohnes@state.ma.us
Joshua Putter, President Steward Hospitals 617-419-4700
LETTER: Morton's pediatric unit is crucial
Pediatricians by tradition, are known for being the voice for our most vulnerable citizens: our children. Over the 36 years I have been a solo pediatrician in Taunton, I have proudly seen a drop in the census on our pediatric ward due to more immunizations for infectious diseases, better asthma control and better surgical and orthopedic technique.
But we still do have pediatric needs: intravenous for hydration, respiratory support for pneumonia and bronchiolitis, and post-op surgical care. Without a pediatric unit, an emergency room stay or transfer to an outlying hospital will be necessary.
The lowered volume on the pediatric ward was compensated by “swing beds.” Our pediatric nurses cared for recovering hospitalized adults. The statement that there have been 284 admissions and 202 observation patients as pointed out by Steward needs to be taken in context. Many patients stay for more than just a day. Actually, because of overlap, four pediatric patients on the ward per day was the average. Steward’s statistics support a business mentality, not an appreciation of patient care.
The pediatric hospitalist program from Tufts failed, from my understanding, because the contract was not renewed. These physicians were getting most of their education and experience from their home base and bringing that knowledge to our patients and our nurses. This program was poorly advertised. The outpatient after-hours clinic was never promoted. Steward used an actuarial model and a clinical competency argument inappropriately. Quite frankly, fewer pediatric patients meant more hands-on care and a more rapid discharge. (Quality, not quantity).
According to MedicineNet.com, the approach to medicine that is concerned with the health of the community as a whole. Public Health is community health. When Steward was in the process of taking over Morton Hospital, their CEOs, at a Department of Public Health meeting, lead us to believe Steward would retain the concept of a community hospital. The decision to close our pediatric unit demonstrates abandonment of our most vulnerable population, a breach of faith, a violation of the public trust and a broken promise to our community.
Our parents and their children deserve a fate better than a cold corporate decision. This is about money, not quality care. Is their decision best for people or best for profit? The youngest members of Taunton need to be cared for comfortably and safely in their own community as we have always done. Do not let this “Goliath” close our pediatric unit.
Eric J. Ruby, M.D.
The author has been a solo practitioner of pediatrics in Taunton since 1977.