HOLYOKE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Senator Ed Markey stood with nurses on Sunday morning to raise concerns about the planned closure of dozens of beds at a mental health facility in western Massachusetts.
The Providence Behavioral Health Hospital, which is run by Trinity Health of New England, is shutting down 40 percent of the region's adult inpatient psychiatric beds, and it's getting rid of 100 percent of pediatric beds for behavioral health.
Since Providence Hospital is the only inpatient mental health facility serving western Massachusetts, patients in the region will have to go to Vermont or Connecticut to get help.
According to Nurse Cindy Chaplin, Unit Chair of Providence Hospital who has worked there for over 40 years, a major part of healing is family involvement, and relocation can be a real barrier to that component.
"Some patients have told me they don't want to be transferred to a different hospital. That they'd rather kill themselves," said Nurse Chaplin. "And that's really sad."
Donna Stern with the Mass. Nurses Association called on Gov. Baker to step in and put a moratorium on the closure of the beds.
"This Governor could step in at any point," said Stern. "Trinity calls itself healthcare, but that's not what they stand for. Trinity stands for three words: Greed, greed, and more greed."
At a press conference on Sunday morning, Stern said there is only one reason Trinity Health is shutting down the psychiatric beds; "Because mental health does not make money."
Trinity Health of New England gave a statement to WBZ NewsRadio on Providence Behavioral Health Hospital:
We respect and appreciate Senator Markey's position. Unfortunately, the shortage of psychiatrists has reached a critical point, preventing our future ability to provide safe, quality care to our patients. The shortage of inpatient psychiatric care providers is a serious, nationwide problem, making it a challenge that is not unique to us or our area. Despite comprehensive recruitment efforts, we have not been able to secure board-certified psychiatrists available for hire or long-term placement at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital.
In the statement, Trinity Health went on to say staffing inpatient psychiatric units that aren't long-term, only daily or temporary, is not a sustainable practice as they cannot ensure consistent, safe care.
The statement continued:
We will continue to work with the Department of Public Health and the Department of Mental Health on plans to help patients access care after inpatient psychiatric services at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital are discontinued.
The hospital had announced the closure of the beds and more than 200 layoffs in early Spring according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
WBZ NewsRadio's Suzanne Sausville reports:
(Photo: Suzanne Sausville/Twitter)