DPH rejects UMass Memorial’s plan to close Leominster maternity ward, says plan is ‘inadequate’

The state rejected UMass Memorial Health’s plan to close the labor and delivery unit at Leominster Hospital, calling the plan “inadequate” in a letter on Friday.

Citing transportation needs, the locations of alternative delivery sites, ambulance service availability, and staffing challenges, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health says closing the hospital on September 23 is just not feasible.

“Based upon the information provided to date, the Department does not believe the Hospital’s closure plan is adequate, particularly as related to transportation and community engagement via the HRiA assessment, to allow for closure on September 23, 2023,” the letter read.

Leominster Mayor: Hospital “failed miserably” in maternal care closure plan

Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella lauded the state’s decision.

he said. “We thank the Department of Public Health for taking the full development of a plan seriously and for looking out for the most vulnerable in our community.”

The letter comes after months of protests from nurses and other Leominster residents, urging the state to take a more hands-on approach in defending the maternity ward.

‘It’s terrifying’: Dozens of protestors rallying to stop a maternity ward from closing in Leominster

UMass Memorial Health had the following to say about the setback:

In line with regulatory processes, the Department of Public Health (DPH) has shared supplemental questions in response to our previously submitted plans to ensure regional access to labor and delivery services upon the proposed closure of HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital’s inpatient maternity unit in Leominster. We remain committed to continuing to engage in a transparent exchange of information as we address DPH’s latest questions and to preserving equitable access to maternity care for all birthing people across North Central Massachusetts.

For now, it looks as though the maternal word will remain open through the initial September 23 deadline.

“With the DPH response today, the process goes on to ensure that the health and well-being of expectant mothers and their newborns will be protected no matter what the final outcome of the process is,” Mayor Mazzarella said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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