WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) – St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester could be facing hefty fines for not complying with orders from the state.
The letter states that on July 28, the hospital told the DPH they were reducing the number of “inpatient behavioral health beds” from 20 to 10. On August 12, the hospital said they intended to close the remainder of the beds on August 16 due to staffing issues.
Since then, the DPH has been waiting on St. Vincent’s to reopen these beds as soon as possible, and no later than after the end of the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) strike.
“Although the Hospital has asserted that the closure of these beds is temporary due to the ongoing nursing strike, these beds have been closed for more than three months,” the leader read. “Therefore, at this time, the Department requires that the Hospital begin the essential services process for the closure of the Hospital’s inpatient behavioral health services or immediately plan to reopen these essential services.”
While DPH has repeatedly asked the hospital to provide a specific date on which these beds will reopen, St. Vincent has yet to do so. The letter also said that the hospital has not indicated a current plan to reopen the beds.
If St. Vincent’s does not comply with the department’s orders, they could be facing fines of up to $10,000.
In a statement to WBZ NewsRadio, State Representative David LeBoeuf said the decision to close these beds was reckless, and that it put the health and welfare of residents in Worcester County in danger.
“I applaud Secretary Sudders for making this decision and holding the hospital and Carolyn Jackson accountable,” LeBoeuf said. “It has been shown time and time again that the hospital will go out of its way to harm the overall healthcare ecosystem instead of sitting down with the nurses and settling this long overdue dispute."
It has been more than 200 days since the striking nurses walked off the job demanding better staffing.
WBZ's Charlie Bergeron (@CharlieBergeron) has more: