BURBANK HOSPITAL TO CLOSE MENTAL HEALTH UNIT
HOSPITAL SAYS IT “CAN’T AFFORD” TO PROVIDE SERVICES
Nurses Contend Closing Will Be Devastating to Patients in Need of Care
Registered Nurses who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association were told in a meeting on Tuesday that Health Alliance/Burbank Hospital will be closing the inpatient psychiatric Acute Care Unit. The hospital plan is to close the unit no later than December 31, 2010. The Burbank unit is the only inpatient locked unit in the area.
“In the meeting we were told that UMass and the Health Alliance had decided that they could no longer afford the keep the unit open. Their reason for the closing came as a real surprise considering the UMass system has shown a profit of over $90 million over the last fifteen reported months,” said Burbank bargaining unit chair Yvonne Senecal, RN. “Where should that profit go if not to provide services to these very vulnerable patients? We are deeply concerned about the devastating impact this closing will have on our community and those suffering from mental illness.”
The announcement comes at a time when Mental Health units are closing and cutting beds all across Massachusetts. In Worcester County the state is consolidating Worcester and Westborough State Hospitals into one hospital which will eliminate beds, and because of budget cuts, there has been a decrease in availability of community based services for the mentally ill. Many patients in the area have to wait for a bed to open to be admitted. In some cases severely ill patients are languishing in hospital emergency rooms waiting several days for a treatment bed to open. “As a nurse on the Mental Health Unit, I am constantly getting calls from hospitals around the state looking for open beds. If they close our unit, the patients from our area will be out there looking for a bed in other parts of the state,” said Senecal.
This proposed closing is incredibly short sighted according to Senecal, “This just isn’t well thought out. We are a highly thought of Mental Health unit, we have a highly trained, experienced staff that is highly certified. Most of our patients suffer from dual diagnosis of psychiatric and substance abuse. Our patients are among the most vulnerable in our society. In many ways they are voiceless but we will work with the patients and their families to fight this closing.”