MNA Initial Response to Baystate Health Plan to Close Behavioral Health Services
On Monday, Feb. 4 Baystate Health announced that it plans to open a behavioral health hospital in the Springfield area with for-profit US HealthVest and close inpatient behavioral health services at Baystate Franklin, Noble and Wing in about two years.
We are very concerned about this proposed plan and have many questions. Our first thoughts went to our patients and our community. As always, when highly profitable health systems threaten to close vital services, we stand with our neighbors to keep care local. Ensuring patients have access to safe, high-quality care is our first priority.
We are working now to get more information about Baystate’s plan. We are also connecting with community members, elected officials, relevant state agencies and everyone who will be affected by this proposal.
There is a dramatic shortage of behavioral health beds in Massachusetts. We also have an opioid addiction epidemic and an aging population of Baby Boomers with complex medical and mental health needs. This is a problem that needs to be addressed. Any change to how behavioral health care is provided in our region should result in an improvement for patients and their families. Will Baystate’s plan fit that criteria?
Our preliminary questions include:
- When did Baystate begin discussing this plan? Who did it speak with to perform its “due diligence” prior to announcing the plan?
- Where will the facility be sited? A Springfield location may work for Baystate but it will impact the care available to patients in the Greenfield area and other geographically distant locations.
- Will the new facility be non-medical? If so, what does that mean for behavioral health patients who can currently get care at full-service hospitals in Greenfield, Palmer and Westfield? What will happen to the patient populations of the medical-surgical units?
- What is the financial relationship between Baystate (a non-profit) and US HealthVest (a for-profit)? Will the community still have a voice in its health care under this partnership?
- If the new facility is a for-profit, what does that mean for admissions of patients who use Medicare or Medicaid or who do not have insurance?