The Steward Health Care System, which currently owns the Quincy Medical Center in Quincy, MA, has been facing a less-than-happy holiday season as it prepares to close the majority of Quincy’s local hospital, much to the dismay of residents.
According to Boston Globe reporter Priyanka Dayal McCluskey, Steward had originally planned to close the medical center entirely, but as of December 16, the NY-based hospital chain has announced that it will keep the emergency room of the Quincy Medical Center open, although it will begin shutting down the other wings of the clinic in the coming weeks.
With the finances of Quincy in shaky condition, Steward executives announced that it would close the hospital, and its adjoining emergency room, by the end of the year.
Despite servicing an average of 80 patients in its ER per day, Quincy Medical Center has been struggling financially for the past few years; McCluskey explains that the local hospital had been on the brink of bankruptcy before Steward swooped in and purchased the hospital about three years ago.
Thanks to widespread protesting, involving many of Quincy’s 93,000 residents as well as vocal regional politicians, the company announced at a recent public hearing that it would close every part of the Center, save for the emergency room, and would transfer the hospital’s ER license to nearby Carney Hospital in Boston so that Quincy’s 24-hour emergency medical operations could continue.
As a local ABC Boston news outlet states, the remaining ER will still be located in the hospital building, but it will become a “satellite ER” rather than a full-fledged hospital emergency department. The center will continue to be fully staffed with doctors and nurses, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Health, and will continue offering radiology diagnostics, testing, and lab services. For all intents and purposes, Quincy’s hospital ER will — somehow — change from a hospital wing into an immediate care center.
“In a small community where the local hospital is where all medical care is given, a closure would be very disconcerting to the residents,” says Terri Porter, Clinic Administrator, Doctors Express Phoenix. “However, often times forced change can also be a time of re-evaluation and subsequent growth. Having a clinic for less serious medical conditions can still give some measure or reassurance to the community.”
It’s clear that residents are pleased with Steward’s decision to continue offering round-the-clock medical care for the town of Quincy, but such a big change in medical care is likely to cause some problems. Hopefully, for Steward’s sake, the ER’s transition from a hospital wing into a satellite medical center will be seamless and will continue to provide residents with emergency care — because if this doesn’t happen, Attorney General Martha Coakley has already promised the town that she would seek legal action against the company if it fails to provide adequate care.