Share, email, print, bookmark SOURCE reports.

[broadstreet zone=”53820″]

[broadstreet zone=”59948″]

FRAMINGHAM – MetroWest Medical Center is diverting ambulances again from Framingham Union Hospital, due to a lack of nurses on staff.

During the last two holiday weekends of 2022, MetroWest Medical Center requested local ambulance companies and MetroWest Fire Departments divert ambulances. SOURCE media broke the news Christmas weekend and New Year’s Day weekend, and was the only media outlet that published the news.

SOURCE has learned MetroWest Medical Center has request ambulances be diverted from its labor & delivery unit tonight until Saturday morning, January 7, after 7 a.m. Apparently, there is either one or no nurses on the night time and overnight shifts.

When ambulances are diverted, that impacts more than the patient, it also ties up ambulances for other emergencies.

For example, if any ambulance comes from Ashland to Framingham, it is a short drive. But for an ambulance to go to Newton-Wellesley Hospital or Milford Hospital or even UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, it means that Ashland ambulance is out of service longer.

Tuesday night during the City Council meeting, Mayor Charlie Sisitsky and several City Councilors expressed concern about the Tenet-owned medical center.

The Mayor expressed the ambulance concern and other concerns.

“It’s a serious problem and I’m not convinced that the hospital is doing everything they can to correct the problem. And it’s something that I’m going to be bringing it up at our next meeting with our legislative delegation that they should know about what’s going on because they would have more authority to look into it than us. But it is a serious problem and I think we need to pay attention to it,” said Mayor Sisitsky to the 11-member Framingham City Council Tuesday night.

“I got a couple anonymous calls. I got a couple emails, and my wife has friends that work there because that’s where she started her career. And whatever you heard, it’s worse is all I’m going to tell you. It’s worse than what we’re hearing,” said City Council Chair Phil Ottaviani Jr. “Tenet just doesn’t seem to care. They really just don’t seem to care. We found that out with the Cancer Center. … It is a big problem.”

SOURCE has emailed the the PR spokes person for MetroWest Medical Center three times about the diversion of ambulances. No response has been received.

There are worries both inside the Framingham Union Hospital, and outside the hospital that Tenet wants to close its labor & delivery unit.

In 2020, in the middle of the pandemic Texas-based Tenet closed the pediatric unit at MetroWest Medical Center

In April of 2022, SOURCE media broke the news that Tenet wanted to close the Cancer Center at MetroWest Medical Center.

Through the extensive efforts of Senate President Karen Spilka, who fought for the Cancer Center to stay open in Framingham, Tenet eventually made a deal with Tufts to keep the center open but under Tufts Medical not Tenet.

The deal was agreed upon in 2022, and Tufts is expected to take over the cancer center this month.

Tuesday night, Dr. David Rishikof, President of the medical staff at MetroWest Medical Center, spoke via Zoom to the City Council.

“Thank you to this Council and the Mayor for your advocacy and for recognizing the concerns that we all have about Metro West Medical Center. It’s a vital institution for our community and I think that the physician staff, the current nursing staff that remain are remarkable. And we stay because we have a hope for a better medical center in the future. We acknowledge and appreciate that the status quo is far from where we need to be specifically about labor and delivery. I’m a pulmonary and critical care doctor. I only know from my colleagues who work there how difficult a time it has been for the people who work there. I share my concern about Tenet and their response to a predictable and gradually unfolding problem that has led to this crisis point,” said Dr. Rishikof.

“I too have received numerous calls. I spent under previous ownership, I think it was five or six years on the hospital board there. I know the medical staff and some of the folks there. The reports back are not pleasant, frankly. They’re scary and they’re what you’re hearing multiplied,” said District 8 Councilor John Stefanini, at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. “To me it amounts to constructive closure, which is in violation of the state statute. It’s in violation of their order from the Department of Public Health.”

[broadstreet zone=”59947″]

MetroWest Medical Center was warned in spring 2022 by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health not to divert ambulances, after it diverted ambulances to the emergency room multiple days in April. The hospital CEO Ava Collins wrote the hospital was having IT issue and needed to go “code black.” The state said that was not acceptable. Since then Collins resigned as CEO and David Elgarico was brought in as CEO.

MetroWest Medical Center CEO Elgarico told the Framingham Mayor the first weekend of labor & delivery ambulance diversion that it was temporary and would be just one shift.

Instead, it last all weekend and then happened again the next weekend, and it is happening again tonight.

SOURCE learned that on some of the labor & delivery shifts those holiday weekends, no registered nurse was on shift, and on many instances in the last three weeks, only one or two RNs are on per shift in that department.

[broadstreet zone=”99032″]

“It is the public, the people who need the care, who are going to suffer with devastating consequences,” said District 9 City Council Tracey Bryant.

Since Thanksgiving, there have been a handful of resignations in the labor & delivery unit at MetroWest Medical Center.

Eileen Failkow was one of them. She just gave her notice after 4 decades with the Center.

She told the City Council Tuesday night. “I have never seen it this bad in all my years. Safety is a big issue.”

“I said this last summer, when we had the discussion regarding the cancer center. I just feel like we’ve had the short straw here,” said City Councilor At-Large George King Jr Tuesday night. “When all the hospital consolidation happened, whenever it was back in the nineties, we got purchased by a for-profit and it’s been a disaster ever since.”

“You walk in the building, it looks old and run down it. And I feel terribly for the people who are working there, people who work there for 45 years. I’m sure they’re horrified. And until someone buys, until Tenet is willing to sell that hospital to a more responsible, more local healthcare provider, I have very little hope that we’re going to be able to turn this ship around,” said Councilor King.

[broadstreet zone=”53130″]

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.