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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Tufts Medical Center closing its children’s hospital

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Josh Kotler
The 12-foot bear statue in front of the Tufts Children’s Hospital, where 41 pediatric beds will be converted to adult ICU and surgical beds. Photo by Josh Kotler / Mass Media Staff

With Tufts Medical Center’s announcement of the closing of its children’s hospital, patients and staff have shown concern about the decision to discontinue the service of providing pediatric beds. The official announcement, made by Tufts in late January, informed the public that the hospital would close its pediatric unit on July 1, 2022. The Center has collaborated with Boston Children’s Hospital to continue providing services to pediatric patients and families.
“The collaboration comes at a time when the Boston-area health care market is rapidly changing,” Tufts Children’s Hospital announced on its website.
According to the latest news by The Boston Globe, although the center was planning on continuing to provide services until July 1, the hospital may be compelled to close sooner due to the staff departure for new positions.
“People feel very insecure about the viability of the plan,” said Dr. Daniel Rauch, Chief of Pediatric Hospital Medicine for Tufts Medical Center. “Staff are leaving, our ability to deliver care is rapidly changing. They’ve killed the service here.”
The decision to close the children’s hospital—formerly and familiarly known as the Floating Hospital for Children—was made in response to the increasing need for adult ICU beds. The medical center converted 41 pediatric inpatient beds to ICU beds for critically ill adults.
“The number of adult patients in need of highly specialized medical care at Tufts Medical Center has risen dramatically—so much so that the hospital is forced to turn away hundreds of patients each month,” read the press release by the medical center.
“To say we are all devastated at Tufts Children’s is an understatement. In the midst of a pandemic, for-profit healthcare has destroyed a sacred legacy, and obliterated a decades-long commitment to the most vulnerable kids in Eastern Mass and ultimately most of New England,” tweeted Dr. Michael O’Brien, who works at Tufts Children’s Hospital.
This move has concerned families of children who are patients at the hospital. The decision has even compelled doctors to make a choice for themselves: whether to continue at Tufts or to seek other jobs.
“Tufts executives have faced a backlash since announcing the plan to close pediatric hospital beds—from parents of sick children and from hospital staff, who pride themselves on serving poor families and immigrants who have few other options for affordable care,” The Boston Globe reported.
The press release published on the Tufts website said that the collaboration with Boston Children’s Hospital will continue to deliver “pediatric ambulatory specialty services, including satellite physician services,” and that the team of pediatricians at Boston Children’s Hospital will “coordinate care for approximately 70,000 pediatric patients across the region.”
“This is an innovative collaboration that allows two world class institutions to coordinate highly sophisticated care to those most in need,” said Michael Dandorph, President and CEO of Tufts Medicine.
Even after closing the children’s facility, the medical center will continue to operate its neonatal intensive care unit, general and Asian pediatric and adolescent clinics and more.
The announcement came with community backlash.
“It’s not certain what is going to become of everybody,” said Mary Havlicek Cornacchia, an operating room staff nurse and chairperson of the nurses’ union bargaining unit at Tufts, to GBH. Cornacchia has worked for around 33 years at the medical center and expressed concern about the transition: “I know that we are working closely with Boston Children’s Hospital for transition collaboration. So hopefully all of these staff people will be placed appropriately.”

About the Contributors
Kaushar Barejiya, News Editor
Josh Kotler, Photographer