Today’s Taunton Daily Gazette features a front page profile of two of the pediatric nurses on the Morton Hospital pediatric unit who talk about their practice, and their love for unit they have competently and compassionately served for decades. The article underscores the quality of care provided on this unit, and the absolute need to keep it open in the wake of Cerberus-Steward’s callous decision to close the unit. A DPH public hearing on the closure is scheduled for Friday, April 19 at 2 p.m. at the Taunton Public Library. We encourage those who support these nurses to attend the hearing and if they can’t 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
TAUNTON — Throughout their decades of service at the Morton Hospital pediatric unit, Ann Lupica and Martha Furtado have tended to generations of children recovering respiratory problems, dehydration, surgical procedures, bone fractures and other issues.
Now as Steward Health Care — the company that bought Morton Hospital in 2011 — plans to shut down the pediatric department, the two nurses are reflecting on their years working at the unit, and all the children and families they met along the way.
“You never quite know what you are going to see on pediatrics,” said Lupica, the unit’s longest serving nurse. “Every child is different. Early on, you begin your rapport with the family and the patient. If they get used to your face, every day is a little bit easier and the child adjusts a little bit more. … We as a staff are family. We are a close-knit group who covers that helps each other and makes sure the care is provided. It’s a service that is really important to this community.”
Steward says it’s closing down pediatrics at Morton because the lack of inpatient volume, with just one admittance per day, has a stagnating affect on the quality of service provided by the unit. The hospital has also said generally, in response to outcry about forcing families to drive to Boston or Providence pediatric units, that it is unfortunate whenever families have to travel further for care, but it is more important to have confidence in the quality.
The 11 nurses at the unit, along with patient families, local doctors and a so-called hospitalist — a resident doctor at the pediatric unit — are now looking at the prospect of an end to a chapter of pediatric care at Morton Hospital.
“It’s a great bunch of nurses and staff,” said Furtado, of Taunton, who has worked at the pediatric unit for 24 years. “Everyone is so skilled about what they do. They are so competent and several are certified in pediatrics.”
Furtado and Lupica reflected on the personal impact the unit had on individual families and scores of patients from throughout the years.
Furtado talked about the personal touch one has to have on the pediatric unit, and the ability to work well with children, with varying temperaments and personalities.
“You have to take into account what developmental age they are at in their life,” she said. “You can have a toddler interested in grabbing things, putting shapes into holes. And then you have a kindergartener or preschooler who would rather watch a video. You have to take all the personality stuff into account and everyone here is just very good at that.”
Asked to remember some of the most important bonds the pediatric unit nurses had with a patient, Lupica talked about a young man who the unit cared for more than 21 years before his premature death. As the child-turned-adult patient suffered from severe cerebral palsy, his family wanted him to spend his final moments of life in the Taunton pediatric unit.
“His mom preferred that he come to us instead of Boston,” said Lupica, of Raynham. “He spent a lot of time with us. He actually enjoyed having the attention we gave him. He couldn’t speak but he was very aware and sensitive to what was going on. We put him in specific rooms so he could watch what was going on in the rest of the unit. He was part of our family. That’s the type of relationship we have with the community.”