Neighbors in Blackstone Have Concerns on Shattuck Hospital Move

Officials from the state said this week that the new Shattuck Hospital would have inpatient and outpatient services, and that it is now scheduled to open at 85 E. Newton St. in 2022 – about a year later than originally expected.

“The predicted move now from Jamaica Plain is closer to 2022,” said Health and Human Undersecretary Lauren Peters, speaking during a meeting of the Blackstone Franklin Neighborhood Association (BFNA) Monday.

Peters and Department of Public Heath (DPD) Assistant Commissioner Frank Doyle both appeared at BFNA to give an update on the project for the first time this year.

One of the newer twists is that they do expect to not only bring 260 inpatient beds to the South End, but also they plan to bring some outpatient services as well. However, 60 percent of the outpatient services would be with the Department of Corrections (DOC), which would bring patients in by van with guards.

“They will be in chains,” said Doyle, noting about 25 trips per day.

Peters said a lot of the outpatient services are meant to be phased out in total via telemedicine appointments – where doctors and patients could interact online without having to make a trip to the facility.

Another part of that twist will be the fact that Shattuck intends to continue robust conversations with Boston Medical Center and other providers in the area to make sure services aren’t duplicated.

Many of the services provided in the far-flung and isolated Shattuck site right now may already be provided in the service-heavy hospital district where they are moving.

“We are now going to be in the center of an urban, academic medical center,” said Peters.

BFNA President Toni Crothall inquired about whether patients would have privileges to leave the Shattuck, potentially exposing them to the ills of Mass/Cass and the opiate epicenter.

Doyle said many of the patients are in lockdown, others are allowed to go outside, but only with an escort. Meanwhile, about 25 percent of those granted leave would be able to go onto the street without an escort.

“That’s pretty much the same as for any other hospital,” said Peters. “Patients can leave.”

Peters said they are in the middle of a planning process for both the South End move and what to do on the remaining JP site, which by law has to be used for a public health concern. One of the trade-offs, she said, was written into the RFP for the planning process in that it was suggested the South End would be relieved of some of the burdens of services that now exist.

“We explicitly called out for the need to say that certain parts of the city are disproportionately impacted by health and human services,” said Peters. “That meant the South End. We recognized that from the start…They shouldn’t all be in one part of the city. They should be spread around the city.”

Another message delivered numerous times was that they want to be a good neighbor to the South End.

However, for many, it seemed like that had come too late because the announcement of the move came out of the blue about 14 months ago – and neighbors learned only hours before the press.

“I think saying it’s a collaborative process is disingenuous,” she said. “The time to collaborate with that process would have been before you bought the building.”

Fernando Requena, former president of Worcester Square, also appeared and said his peace. He said when BMC consolidated, the idea was not to bring new hospital services there.

“I was hoping someone else would buy that building and not you,” he said. “Now we have another set of hospital beds and another set of patients…The City promised us they wouldn’t do that and then you come in. It’s really very, very annoying.”

South End Forum Moderator Steve Fox attended the meeting, and particularly because he is a member of the Community Advisory Committee for the Shattuck move. He said the full intention is for the South End to shed some of its services in order to accommodate the Shattuck move.

“We have commented to Secretary Sudders that, ‘You’re not going to dump on us,’” he said. “She has committed not to do that.” Peters and Doyle committed to coming back to BFNA and other neighborhood associations for updates.

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