Health Justice for Boston ~ Number 13. January 2015

Quincy Down. Carney Next?

Quincy Medical Center is no more. The workforce - the collective provider of care - has been dispersed, and the beds and anything else not nailed down shipped out to be sold to enrich Steward Health Care’s bottom line. What’s left is a sliver of an emergency room operating under the license of Steward’s Carney Hospital in Dorchester and a scattering of minimally regulated offices. The hollow shell of a building and the land it sits on is only now being claimed by the City of Quincy, which cared not for the hospital that had until recently provided vital services. It’s all about real estate.

Thanks are due to the people who waged a valiant but losing battle to save QMC: those who set up the Facebook page, circulated the petition, participated in City Council and Department of Public Health hearings, built the forum and marched in the vigil. Jobs with Justice, the South Shore Coalition for Human Rights and the Outreach Committee of the United First Parish Church provided the framework for the fightback, while the unions focused on negotiating the softest possible landing for their displaced members, the dedicated band of workers who held the hospital together for many decades despite increasingly hostile management teams, who never ceased to fight the good fight for healthcare justice and their patients.

Quincy, a diverse and growing city of nearly 94,000 people, is now the largest city in New England without a hospital of its own.

Before the “Blizzard of 2015” and even before the impact of the seasonal flu epidemic, regional emergency departments were overwhelmed. One day, displaced Quincy patients were being admitted directly into beds at Carney Hospital while Dorchester residents waited on hallway stretchers. The next day, the satellite ED in Quincy was notified that Carney was completely full and would not be able to take Quincy patients at all. Then word came that all Boston hospitals were full, and wait times stretched into days. Carney’s survival looks secure in the short run, but the long-term prognosis remains in doubt.

As long as an executive sitting in the Cerberus Capital Management office on Park Avenue has the power to shut down one sixth of Massachusetts acute-care hospitals - the whole Steward Health Care system - if deemed not profitable enough, the very fabric of care in Eastern Massachusetts is at risk. We must intervene now to change the rules of the game.


Cover Letter to Petitions to “Save Quincy Medical Center”


Attorney General Maura Healey
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108-1518

January 26, 2015

Re:     Failure to hold Steward Health Care accountable to its 2011 covenant with Quincy

            Ongoing risk that Steward Health Care will violate similar covenants elsewhere.

Dear Attorney General Healey:

These residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts petition you to enforce the covenants that Steward Health Care had signed with your office in 2010 and 2011 to maintain needed services and keep acute-care facilities open for specified lengths of time. Quincy Medical Center, a 114-year-old facility operating in that growing, diverse, working-class city of nearly 94,000, is no more.

Steward Health Care has been allowed to shut down this needed institution in Quincy, leaving an under-resourced satellite emergency room operating for a limited amount of time under the license of Steward’s Dorchester facility, Carney Hospital. It even lacks a blood bank.

Every other Steward facility operating under covenants signed with your office in 2010 and 2011 is at risk. Every one of its host communities is threatened by Steward’s evident lack of commitment.

Needed facilities and services are at risk in every working-class community across the Commonwealth. The swift demise of North Adams Regional Hospital last March, the closure of Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center the previous May, the ongoing shrinkage of acute-care services at Partners’ Lynn Union Hospital and the constant attempts by Bay State Medical Center in Springfield to diminish services at its Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield are but a few of the more glaring instances where tighter oversight by your office’s Public Charities Division may have been, or still are, vital.

Quincy Medical Center is gone. Please intervene to keep services wherever else needed.

Sincerely,

Sandy Eaton, RN
Chair, Health Care Committee
South Shore Coalition for Human Rights

Guide to Action

All our working-class communities need to reach out to each other in solidarity and insist that our legislators construct a framework of new rules to this healthcare game. Our lives hang in the balance. Continue to barrage our new attorney general, our new governor, our House and Senate with our demands for healthcare justice, for a system guaranteeing access, affordability, quality and equality: safe staffing, hospital profit transparency and fairness, empowered DPH, receivership power to save failing facilities, richly funded distressed hospital fund, brakes on for-profit care, single payer finances and expanded public sector. Find those officials’ contact information here: www.mass.gov

What is Healthcare Justice?

  • Access: Can you get the care you need?
  • Affordability: Will you go bankrupt if you do?
  • Quality: Will you survive your encounter?
  • Equality: Do you meet special barriers to care?

Directory

For more information on health care as a right, not a commodity:

Mass-Care   Healthcare NOW!   Labor Campaign for Single Payer

To navigate the current system:

Boston Mayor’s HealthLine @ 617-534-5050

Health Care For All - Massachusetts
Consumer Health HelpLine @ 800-272-4232

Massachusetts Health Connector
Customer Support @ 877-623-6765

For more information, contact:

Quentin Davis @ 617-553-2949 or davisquestin@gmail.com
Sandy Eaton @ 617-510-6496 or sandyern@comcast.net

Health Justice for Boston is archived on Seachange Bulletin.
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