After state health officials announced the idea of moving the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital from Jamaica Plain to the South End a few weeks ago, this week Jamaica Plain State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez – the chair of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee – has said he supports the move and the upcoming planning process.
Meanwhile, in the South End, a meeting late last month with officials from the state Health and Human Services cabinet office signaled that the neighborhood is looking ahead, hopefully to the planning process for the Shattuck site – expecting a quid pro quo situation when all is said and done.
Rep. Sanchez and JP’s other state representative, Liz Malia, both have pieces of JP, but Sanchez has recently been promoted to chair of the House Ways & Means Committee – where all funding requests, including that of the Shattuck, have to appear before they can move forward.
This week, he signaled that he would back the plan, and said the Shattuck has been a safety net for the most vulnerable populations for years. He believed that would continue in the South End, and the current land would be able to serve health needs in a different capacity.
“The very land it sits on is dedicated to serving public health,” he said. “Its neighbor, Franklin Park, is a crown jewel in Olmsted’s beautiful Emerald Necklace. The combined campus nurtures the social, emotional, and physical health of everyone who passes through it.
“The Shattuck’s move is a major change, but I have faith that it will ensure its patients continue to receive top-notch care,” he continued. “In the coming months and years, I look forward to working with Rep. Malia and the community as we explore ways to improve the health of our most vulnerable residents in the absence of the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital.”
He said the Shattuck has a history of treating the most critical health problems of the day, from polio to tuberculosis to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and, now, to the mental health and substance abuse issues.
With the deal for the Newton Pavilion on track to close in October, things have taken a decidedly JP feel in the South End as residents focus their energies on the site there.
The idea, more than a few have said, is that in exchange for accommodating the move of the Shattuck, that the state would work to try to relieve some or many of the social services that currently overwhelm the South End neighborhood by moving them to the Shattuck.
Several of the Methadone Clinics in the South End/Newmarket area have reportedly expressed an interest in expanding the numbers within their clientele, but that would likely not be able to happen in the South End – where the community is adamantly against any expansion.
However, the thinking goes, that could happen at Shattuck in the form of a Recovery Campus – a place where one of the Methadone Clinics in the South End already operates a location.
At the March 20 Opiate Working Group meeting, Undersecretary for Health Policy Lauren Peters said the state would soon put out an RFP for a consultant to run the 12-month process to plan for Shattuck. Already, South End Forum Moderator Steve Fox and Newmarket Business Association Director Sue Sullivan have been given a seat on the steering committee.
Meanwhile, Peters said they have been in contact with the City of Boston on its plan for a Recovery Campus on Long Island. She said the two plans could work together, and Shattuck could be used as interim space while the Long Island plan is being put in place.
“We are also aware of the City’s plan for Long Island and we don’t see it as an alternative to this plan, but we can work with the City and make sure things are in parallel or complimentary to each other,” she said.