State Rep. Harold Naughton to Host Community Forum on Feb, 20 on the Need for UMass Health Alliance to Preserve Essential Services at Clinton Hospital
What: Community Forum on the Preservation of Services at Our Community Hospital
When: Tuesday, Feb. 20 from 6 – 8 p.m.
Where: Clinton Town Hall, 242 Church St.
Who: Local residents, former patients, nurses, physicians, community leaders, and elected officials are expected to speak at the Forum. A representative from the Department of Public Health will be attending the Forum to hear the community’s concerns about the loss of these essential services.
In response to efforts by UMass Health Alliance to eliminate nearly all ambulatory services at Clinton Hospital, State Representative Harold Naughton will host a community forum, attended by an official from the Department of Public Health, for members of the community to voice their concerns about the loss of essential services and the future of their community hospital.
The forum follows a decision last month by UMass Memorial HealthAlliance - Clinton Hospital CEO Deborah Weymouth to close the Endoscopy Service at Clinton Hospital, an essential program for the diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer and other serious gastro-intestinal conditions that serves several hundred patients each year. This closing is the latest in a series of service losses at the hospital since 2015, including the elimination of outpatient surgery/operating room, nuclear stress tests; interventional radiology procedures and infusion center services such as IV medication administration, IV antibiotics, blood transfusions and phlebotomy, which are essential for providing local treatment of cancer and other conditions. Officials from Health Alliance including CEO Weymouth have been invited to attend the forum.
Hundreds of residents attended a meeting held by Weymouth in January to voice their opposition to the closing of the endoscopy service. At that meeting, she promised the community and Rep. Naughton that they would delay the closing to allow review of the plan by DPH and provide an opportunity for the public to voice their concerns. She has since reneged on that commitment and has pursued closure of the service. In the meantime, the DPH declined to intervene in the decision, claiming that the endoscopy closure did not qualify for review. Rep. Naughton and other area officials have appealed to Secretary of Health and Human Services Mary Lou Sudders for further review of this issue and for the loss of other services at the hospital, which has prompted the Secretary to send a DPH representative to the forum on Feb. 20.
n a letter to DPH signed by Rep. Naughton and six other area legislators, they stated, “We view the closure of this department and prior seemingly systematic dismantling of services at a potential danger to our communities and the people we represent.”
“The greater Clinton Community wants and deserves health care that is local, and it does not want to see its community hospital die by a thousand cuts,” Naughton said. “We have called this forum to allow DPH and Health Alliance officials to hear from this community how important these services are to their health and wellbeing in the hopes that efforts can be made to preserve and enhance services.”