By Priscila Sousa
FRAMINGHAM – For more than a hundred years, Framingham Union Hospital, now part of the MetroWest Medical Center, has been at the center of our city, providing care for generations of residents across many different communities. Framingham is fortunate to be home to a hospital, with an emergency room, high quality oncology and heart centers.
To my family, Framingham Union occupies a particularly special place. It was there that doctors, nurses and staff saved my father’s life three decades ago when we were new to this country and where I became a big sister just a few years later.
But the recent news about drastic changes Tenet, the out of state owner of the MetroWest Medical Center, implemented these past few weeks is unacceptable.
I am outraged by their decision to eliminate in-person interpretation services at the hospital. In a community where 40% of residents, including 50.5% of our students, do not speak English as a first language, not having this service is unconscionable. Our immigrant community, which includes our taxpayers, business owners, and neighbors, is growing and has a continuous need of health care services. Health care services that require being able to speak freely with their health care professionals like so many of us do. They deserve the same level of care. Imagine facing a health crisis and not being able to communicate clearly with your doctors and nurses. Instead of having an in-person interpreter, you are given a phone to talk to someone in another city to relay your concerns. A phone call where facial expressions, pointing to a part of the body that hurts and nuances may be lost. How scary. How impersonal. How potentially dangerous.
In-person interpretation services must be returned to full capacity at Framingham Union. As State Representative, I would submit legislation requiring all hospitals to have in-person interpretation services. Compassionate care requires clear communication.
Closing the oncology center and moving patients to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester may make sense to a company based in Texas, but it greatly affects those who seek cancer care at Framingham Union. For those who do not have access to a car or drive long distances, getting care at our local hospital is a lifesafer.
We are talking about the lives of our neighbors – not simply some numbers in a budget. These are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, uncles and aunts, friends and co-workers. It is you and me.
Our nurses and doctors do a wonderful job providing care. They, too, deserve a hospital with the best resources and support.
Framingham needs the best in health care. We deserve a health care center focused on what is best for our neighbors, not their multi-million dollar budget.
Framingham without its hospital puts our residents at risk. It puts our friends in surrounding communities at risk.
As a community, we have to pressure Tenet to revisit these changes and better serve the community this hospital calls home.
Health care is a right, not a business expense.
Priscila Sousa, Chair of the Framingham School Committee, is a Democratic candidate for 6th Middlesex District State Representative.