News & Events

Taunton’s Morton Hospital receives $150,000 boost towards psychiatric services for patients

Cash-strapped Morton Hospital and Medical Center got a shot in the arm Thursday in the form of a $150,000 grant to improve the capability of its emergency-room psychiatric services.

Hospital officials, including board of trustees members and president and executive officer Maureen Bryant, held a press conference in the hospital’s main lobby to announce the news.

The grant award — which will be used to build upon the hospital’s clinical capacity for assessing and identifying treatment for patients with mental health problems — was awarded by Partners HealthCare, a non-profit founded in 1994 by Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Bryant noted that the number of patients coming into the emergency room with mental-health issues has been steadily growing.

“These patients can sometimes wait days for placement. So this should help relieve the bottleneck,” Bryant said, adding, “This is a good day for us.”

State Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton, was lauded for having recommended Morton Hospital as a grant recipient to Partners HealthCare.

Pacheco said increasing the ability to provide psychiatric assessment and placement not only benefits those patients, it also increases safety for other patients and hospital personnel.

Bryant concurred, noting that some patients coming into the emergency room with mental-health problems often create a state of anxiety, not only within themselves, but in others around them as well.

Pacheco said the Partners grant is especially timely in light of current fiscal challenges besetting Morton and other community hospitals.

“We always need to maximize revenue sources,” he said.

Bryant, in September, announced a cost-saving measure requiring that the defined-benefit pension plan of Morton’s 800 non-union workers would be replaced with a 403(b) retirement plan.

That move came after an announcement in July that the hospital was closing its Transitional Care Unit and its Occupational Health Services Program, the latter of which was located in Northwoods Medical Center on Bay Street.

The previous April a strike was averted after six months of negotiations with the union representing the hospital’s nurses.

Bryant previously acknowledged that the board of trustees would consider merging Morton Hospital with a regional hospital group, as a means of reliving fiscal pain, if the opportunity arose.

Rebecca Kaiser, Partners’ director of community relations and trustee development, said her organization recognizes that “community hospitals across the commonwealth are struggling.”

Partners, she said, “has a strong commitment to hospitals outside of the Boston area.”

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