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Closings at hospital belie bottom line

Closings at hospital belie bottom line

UMass Memorial plans the closing of the psych facility at its Burbank Campus. Like their recently announced plans to lay off many staff and close some in-patient units, this reduction is not done by a hospital that is losing money hand over fist. Look at the new buildings you see rising at the UMass campus. And it is not simply because in-patient units are underutilized. At the UMass campus, emergency room patients are lining the corridors and hallways waiting for hours due to a lack of in-patient beds.

But they are closing units there, too?

These closings seem to be a business decision by the hospital administration based primarily on the bottom line, not on concern for the public’s health needs. State Rep. Stephen DiNatale of Fitchburg pointed this out at the hearing. As a retired registered nurse, I agree with state Sen. Jennifer Flanagan and Donna Kelly-Williams, president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, that the ER is no place for mental health patients to linger for days waiting for a psychiatric bed — somewhere. This is not fair to the patient, the staff of the ER, or the other patients in the ER. The ER is fundamentally a medical unit, not a psych unit.

UMass Memorial should think again about how it wants to be seen by the communities it serves.


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