FRAMINGHAM — After practically three months to ruminate on MetroWest Medical Heart’s controversial plans to shut a few of its outpatient oncology providers, dozens of group members got here ready to ship scathing testimony at a state listening to Wednesday.
However in an Eleventh-hour change after all, MetroWest Medical Heart’s company management introduced that the hospital is in talks with Tufts Drugs to proceed offering varied oncology providers at its Framingham campus.
The announcement — made throughout a state Division of Public Well being hospital important service closures listening to — marked the newest in a monthslong saga that has put the group hospital within the highlight.
‘Our group deserves higher’
Declining demand for oncology infusion and radiation oncology providers contributed to MetroWest Medical Heart’s choice to shut these providers and deal with different areas, based on Carolyn Jackson, CEO of the Massachusetts marketplace for hospital proprietor Tenet Healthcare.
The unique announcement in April drew condemnation from state and native leaders, who cited the influence on sufferers who can’t journey larger distances for therapy, both as a result of they’re too sick or can’t afford it.
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Nonetheless, Jackson introduced throughout Wednesday’s listening to that the hospital is in unique negotiations for Tufts Drugs to supply oncology providers at MetroWest Medical Heart, with hematology oncology, radiation oncology and infusion providers beneath dialogue.
The providers could be based mostly on the Framingham Union Hospital campus and staffed by way of Tufts, although Tufts may decide to rent well being care employees beforehand employed by MetroWest Medical Heart, Jackson informed the Each day Information.
“Most significantly, MetroWest Medical Heart is dedicated to making sure this course of is as seamless and as comfy as attainable for its sufferers,” she mentioned in her remarks.
The information got here as a welcome shock for a lot of who fought the proposed closures, although it was not sufficient to stave off criticism of Tenet’s long-term plans for the group hospital.
“I’m not an activist; I’m a health care provider,” MWMC doctor Dr. David Rishikof prefaced his remarks. Turning to hospital management, he cracked, “I’m not conscious; has the ink dried on that settlement?”
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“Our possession, Tenet, I don’t have a combat with them,” Rishikof continued. “However I’ll maintain them to account, and I’ll maintain them accountable for the selections that they make.”
He attributed the decline in outpatient oncology visits to under-investment and under-resourcing on Tenet’s half.
“Our group deserves higher,” Rishikof mentioned. “Our group deserves to be near house when they’re handled for most cancers.”
‘They saved my life’
A number of present and former most cancers sufferers spoke on the listening to, praising employees at MetroWest Medical Heart and the care they supplied.
Marlborough resident Ellen Goldsmith mentioned she determined to take a look at MWMC after listening to that it was a regional vacation spot for oncology, “and albeit, they saved my life.”
Goldsmith and her spouse, the Rev. Doreen C. Noble, have been each recognized with most cancers in the identical 12 months.
“The attainable closure for the most cancers middle was traumatic for us,” Noble mentioned.
She added: “We each have a continued lengthy combat forward of us, however what was necessary was that we have been in a position to have the help, we have been in a position to be handled … with honor, with dignity.”
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Natick resident Kathleen Demko, a former nurse at MWMC, described the function the hospital’s most cancers middle has performed for her brother, who has stage 4 renal most cancers.
“With out the middle right here in Framingham, I don’t understand how he could have hope,” she mentioned.
Closing the providers would pose important dangers to residents’ well being and wellbeing, placing financial and emotional hardship on these compelled to journey for care, Senate President Karen Spilka mentioned.
“Anybody who has both confronted a most cancers analysis or has had a member of the family dealing with a most cancers analysis is aware of that therapy is handiest when sufferers can obtain it of their communities, near family members and with out the stress and the having to deal with tough journey, in addition to scheduling their appointments and all that’s concerned in between,” she mentioned.
The potential partnership between MetroWest Medical Heart and Tufts Drugs is “a essential step for our area,” she added, thanking the hospital for listening to the group’s suggestions and adjusting course.
Framingham Mayor Charlie Sisitsky mentioned he was nonetheless processing the information of the Tufts Drugs deal and hopes the plan is “as profitable because it sounds.”
Nonetheless, he went on to learn the remarks he had ready forward of the listening to, taking Tenet to process for lackluster group relations.
“This newest growth represents an extra erosion of the hospital’s reference to the group,” he mentioned. “The elimination of the blood financial institution, elimination of (in-house) interpretive providers and the elimination of the group liaison are all signs of the mum or dad firm of MetroWest Medical Heart turning its again on our group.”
Earlier within the assembly, Jackson introduced that the hospital is reinstating its “typically praised group relations liaison function” this summer time, and that particular person shall be tasked with guaranteeing MWMC’s new CEO, David Elgarico, is linked with key group figures and organizations.
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In the case of a group hospital, these native ties are necessary, based on Framingham Metropolis Councilor John Stefanini.
There’s a “deep dedication” to the hospital in Framingham, he mentioned, urging Tenet to achieve into the group to seek out help for its applications and providers.
“We’re thrilled to listen to about Tufts, … however we have to use this as a studying expertise and hopefully encourage Tenet and the group to have a stronger voice by way of its hospital board, by way of its liaison, by way of its new CEO,” Stefanini mentioned.
Metropolis Council President Philip Ottaviani equally emphasised group engagement, saying of the Tufts deal, “That is nice information, however Tenet must know the place we’re.”