Tenet Healthcare, the for-profit parent of MetroWest Medical Center that can no longer bear declining use of its Leonard Morse Hospital in Natick, is looking to shut down emergency room and other hospital medical services by Oct. 25.
So say the sandwich boards at the hospital’s Union Street entrances.
And so says the healthcare company’s lawyers in notices sent to the state’s Department of Public Health (DPH).
With a CEO whose compensation package exceeded $24 million last year, Tenet clearly needs to watch its pennies.
Tenet initially looked to shutter the services in Natick in May, but COVID-19 had other plans, so a postponement was announced in March. Now Tenet is barreling ahead in its efforts to divert patients to its Framingham facility about 6 miles away, or to various urgent care and other offices in the area. Psychiatric and other behavioral services will remain on the Natick campus and be expanded under the plan, which points out just how darn close the Natick and Framingham hospitals are to each other, traffic be damned.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association is opposed to the change.
Mass DPH, in a response dated Oct. 5, still has a few things it would like MetroWest Medical Center to address by Oct. 15 before getting its blessing.
In general, DPH wants to know how things will be handled in Framingham if demand that was stifled by COVID-19 concerns rises, and what impact all this could have on ambulatory services, among other things:
- Framingham Union Operating Rooms: In your response dated September 25, 2020, you noted that the average decline in total surgeries at Leonard Morse Campus dropped 7% from 2016 through 2019, with a 38% year to date drop for 2020 in monthly surgeries, compared to 2019. The Department requests the Hospital provide it with information regarding the effect COVID19 has had on the demand for and scheduling of surgeries, and whether the decline in surgeries to date in 2020 has resulted in pent up demand for surgery. Additionally, the Department requests the Hospital provide it with information on how, in the event that it should exist, an increase in demand for surgeries would impact wait times for patients in need of surgery at the Framingham Union Campus.
- Emergency Department Volume: In your response dated September 25, 2020, you noted a 24% drop in emergency department volume at Leonard Morse Campus from 2015 to 2019, with an additional 34% decrease in monthly emergency department volume through June 2020. Additionally, utilization data provided by the Hospital indicates a similar decrease at Framingham Union Campus. The Department requests the Hospital provide it with information on the impact COVID-19 has had on patients choosing to access emergency department services. Additionally, the Department requests the Hospital provide it with information on to what degree a return to historical volume as seen prior to 2020 will have on wait times for patients in the Emergency Department as its Framingham Union Campus following the closure of its Leonard Morse Campus.
- Emergency Department Transport Times: In your response dated September 25, 2020, you included travel times from Leonard Morse Campus to alternative service delivery sites. The Department requests information on steps taken by the Hospital to reach out to those towns whose ambulance services will experience longer transport times to discuss the impact of the closure, and what can be done to mitigate transport times to Framingham Union Campus and the return of ambulances to service in their towns of origin.
Leonard Morse Hospital’s history in Natick dates back to the very end of the 19th century.