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FRAMINGHAM – For the third consecutive weekend, MetroWest Medical Center requested local ambulance companies and MetroWest Fire Departments divert ambulances.

It started Christmas weekend, and has continues every weekend since. SOURCE media broke the news Christmas weekend and New Year’s Day weekend.

Ambulances were diverted all weekend, according to local fire departments in MetroWest.

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.

At last week’s City Council meeting, Mayor Charlie Sisitsky and several City Councilors expressed concern about the Tenet-owned medical center.

“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 spokesperson 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 next week on January 16.

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.

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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 this past weekend.

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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.