Two Urgent Care Centers Close in Fitchburg, Leominster
By Peter Jasinski
LEOMINSTER -- The doors to UMass Memorial Health Care’s urgent care center in Fitchburg and cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation units in Leominster officially closed Monday, with HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital’s inpatient pediatric unit expected to close later this week.
The closures, which have been met with backlash from community members and elected officials since they were first announced earlier this year, were reportedly motivated by low patient volume, which hospital administrators have said were steadily declining over the last few years.
Leominster’s 11-bed inpatient pediatric unit, which was deemed an essential service by the state’s Department of Public Health in August, is scheduled to close on Friday.
In a statement placed in the Sept. 27 issue of the Sentinel & Enterprise, HealthAlliance’s administration explained that the hospital intends to continue to meet the health needs of the community, despite closing three of its local services.
“Although market forces and usage patterns indicate that these services are no longer viable, we firmly stand behind our mission to provide care to those in need,” the statement read. “Our dedicated and committed team of professionals is here to serve you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, every year.”
Many local officials began publicly opposing the closure plans when they were first announced in the spring. State representatives Natalie Higgins of Leominster, Stephan Hay of Fitchburg and Harold Naughton, Jr. of Clinton, as well as Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale, Fitchburg City Council President Michael Kushmerek, and Leominster City Councilor Sue Chalifoux Zephir all served as frequent critics to the hospital during the series of press conferences, forums, and listening sessions that were held over the course of the summer to discuss the closures.
According to HealthAlliance’s own reports, the hospital’s inpatient pediatric unit has averaged only one patient a day since 2015 and Fitchburg’s urgent care center has dropped steadily from a daily volume of 38 patients in 2015 to just 26 this year. Leominster’s cardiac rehab unit has seen a daily average of under 10 patients for the last four years, according to the hospital’s data.
Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation patients are being urged to seek treatment at Physical Therapy Plus in Fitchburg while urgent care patients are being redirected to other UMass Memorial Health Care-affiliated urgent cares in Leominster and Fitchburg.
The hospital plans to continue treating pediatric patients in Leominster, however hospitalization will require patients to be transferred to UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center in Worcester, Heywood Hospital in Gardner, or Emerson Hospital in Concord.
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