Residents of Montague cast an overwhelming vote last night to approve a resolution placed on the warrant for the 2013 Annual Town Meeting, which calls upon Baystate Health System to ensure and maintain a broad range of health services at nearby Baystate Franklin Medical Center and to prevent the further erosion of services once available at BFMC that are now only offered in Springfield. The passage of this resolution in Montague follows a similar vote by the residents of Deerfield on April 29. The full text of the resolution can be found at the end of this release.
“When Baystate Health Systems acquired Franklin Medical Center a commitment to maintain services at our local hospital was part of the original agreement,” said Anne Lewin, RN, a resident of Montague and a nurse at Franklin Medical Center who signed the petition to put the resolution on the Town Meeting agenda. “People are realizing that this can’t be taken for granted and that it’s important because of the inconvenience and in many cases real hardship involved in going from Franklin County to Springfield to get services that we’ve had locally and that are basic to the well-being of Franklin County residents. I think people are realizing that they need to advocate for themselves and want to remind Baystate that we’re here and paying attention and intend to have a voice in decisions that affect our ability to get good health care close to home.”
Franklin Medical Center was founded in 1895 and, for nearly a hundred years, it was a stand-alone hospital providing health care to tens of thousands of Franklin County residents. In 1986, Baystate Health took over Franklin Medical Center and initially affiliation with a major health system that had a teaching hospital at its core was a positive development for BFMC. But in the last decade, Baystate Health began cutting services at Franklin Medical Center and in recent years has intensified its program of outsourcing patient care to its flagship facility in Springfield, nearly 40 miles south of Greenfield. These cuts include the elimination of pediatric services, reduced urology services, reduced services for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, elimination of home care services and reduced lab services, along with cuts in the staff who deliver direct patient care.
The resolution was drafted by the registered nurses of Baystate Franklin Medical Center and other concerned community members following a community forum held in March concerning the future of BFMC. Residents of Deerfield approved the resolution on April 29 and the resolution will be taken up at eight other town meetings in the next three weeks including:: Hawley (May 6), Shelbourne (May 7), Colrain (May 7), Erving (May 8), Buckland (May 8), Whately (May 9), Heath (May 11) and Leyden (May 18)
Below is the full text of the resolution:
Whereas, Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield is the only hospital in Franklin County, the most rural county in Massachusetts; and,
Whereas, local access to a full-service community hospital is essential to the health and well being of the residents of Franklin County; and,
Whereas, some important services previously available at Franklin Medical Center are now only available at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield; and,
Whereas, the lack of public transportation and the long distance between parts of Franklin County and Springfield presents a challenge for many residents; and,
Whereas, it is critical for the health of Franklin County residents that they have access to the broadest range of quality health care services in Franklin County,
Therefore be it resolved that the Town of Montague, calls upon Baystate Health System to commit all necessary resources to ensure the provision of all needed services and to commit to the long-term viability of a full-service community hospital at Baystate Franklin Medical Center which will meet the health care needs of the residents of Franklin County; and,
Be it further resolved that the Town Clerk be directed to send copies of this resolution to Mark Tolosky, President and Chief Executive Officer of Baystate Health System, and to Chuck Gijanto, President of Baystate Regional Markets.