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Department of Public Health to Hold Public Hearing (Feb. 15)

Massachusetts Nurses Association/NNU Press Release, 2/13/13

Contact Information | Media Center

M E D I A  A D V I S O R Y

On the Proposed Closure of a 15-bed Drug and Alcohol Detox Unit at Brigham & Women’s Faulkner Hospital

Opponents to the Closing Will Present Testimony Detailing the Devastating Impact the Loss of this Service Will Have on the Most Vulnerable Patients Requiring Complex Treatment for Addiction 

Debate Over This Closing Comes at a Time When Addiction is Increasing and When There is a Shortage of These Types of Services in the State, Particularly for the Level of Care Provided at The Faulkner Unit 

When:    Friday, February 15, 20132 p.m.         

Where:   Mass. Department of Public Health Council Room, 250 Washington, St., Boston, MA

What:     The Department of Public Health will hold a public hearing on Feb. 15, 2013 concerning the plan by Partners HealthCare to close its Level 4 15-bed Alcohol & Drug Detox Unit at the Brigham & Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain, one of only two acute care hospitals providing this level of addictions treatment in the city.

The public hearing is part of the legal process Partners is required to go through prior to closing the unit, which is designed to determine if this is an essential service for patients in the Commonwealth. The proposed closing has been met with strong grassroots opposition by a variety of groups and individuals, including addictions/recovery advocates, community organizations, clinicians and elected officials. 

Opponents to the closing believe the loss of this service will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable residents struggling with addictions in Greater Boston and beyond, as it comes at a time when the addictions are increasing and when there is a critical shortage of these types of beds and services in the Commonwealth. In fact, the Massachusetts Health Council released a report last fall, which found that Eastern Massachusetts had the highest rate of emergency room visits for illicit drug use than any metropolitan region the United States.

The Brigham & Women’s Faulkner Hospital Alcohol and Detoxification program provides specialized care by a team of physicians, nurses and other addictions treatment and mental health professionals to more than 1,000 patients each year. These are patients with severe alcohol and drug problems, who often have other serious medical mental health complications that cannot be addressed on general hospital floors or as outpatients, as Partners is proposing.

The closing of this unit will result in more of these patients crowding our emergency departments; in patients being placed on hospital floors where they will not receive the same level of care; or worst of all, in patients left untreated in our communities. Adding to the ire of opponents is the fact that Partners HealthCare, which reported a significant profit of more than $350 million last year, can well afford to keep this service open. 

Who:    Scheduled to speak at the hearing are representatives from the Mass. Organization of Addiction & Recovery, physicians and nurses who work at the program, former patients, local community leaders, elected leaders and public health experts. 

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