NATICK – MetroWest Medical Center announced today, June 26 it has made the strategic decision to revisit its plans from earlier in the year to tailor and offer more specialized services at Leonard Morse Hospital in Natick.
MetroWest Medical Center said in a press release it would follow through on the notice previously given to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to narrow the focus of the Leonard Morse Hospital campus to behavioral health care.
This change will involve closing acute care services at Leonard Morse Hospital, including the emergency department, and consolidating those services to Framingham Union Hospital, which is located about 6 miles from the Natick hospital.
“We had postponed our plans to close acute care services at Leonard Morse Hospital in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the event our services were needed by the community,” said Andrew Harding, CEO of MetroWest Medical Center.
Leonard Morse Hospital will continue to operate as usual during the regulatory process, said Harding.
The service changes are anticipated to occur in approximately four months, said MetroWest Medical Center’s CEO.
“Despite the pandemic, our patients’ needs for emergency services, and non-COVID-19 related acute care services, have continued to drop. Our Framingham campus, as well as our sister facility, Saint Vincent Hospital, both have enough capacity to care for COVID-19 patients should there be a reoccurrence as well as more specialized capabilities for their needs,” said Harding in a statement.
“The low patient volumes, even during the pandemic, have made it challenging to continue to support full-service operations at Leonard Morse Hospital. We envision the Leonard Morse Hospital campus becoming a unique behavioral health specialty center dedicated to the mental health of our community for child, adolescent, adult and geriatric psychiatric care. Behavioral health is a challenge in our community, and it is critical we optimize our services to help address the issue,” said the CEO.
MetroWest Medical Center will continue to serve the acute care needs of the community at the Framingham Union Hospital campus.
Framingham Union Hospital did not have capacity challenges during the recent COVID-19 surge, said MetroWest Medical center in a press release.
Patients in Natick still have convenient access to care.
“We are confident that this change will not affect the availability of healthcare within the community. We will continue to have strong transfer protocols between the two campuses,” Harding said.
This will include an upgraded electronic health record (EHR), hospital infrastructure and investment in clinical equipment. In addition, MetroWest Medical Center is refining plans for upgrades to the emergency department and cardiovascular service line. These improvements will support an increase in the campus’ capacity to serve the greater MetroWest community, as well as enhance the quality, value and continuum of care provided, said a press release.