Massachusetts Hospital Closure Sheds Light on Plight of Community Hospitals

Partners HealthCare said Tuesday that it will close its community hospital in Lynn as part of a $200 million plan to consolidate medical services on the North Shore over the next three years. The plan calls for adding 58 beds at Salem Hospital while shuttering the 126-bed Union Hospital in Lynn, less than 6 miles away. Salem would also get a renovated emergency department and about 50 new beds for psychiatric patients.

The plan will cut about 100 jobs from the 4,400-employee medical center, hospital executives said. They hope to achieve the reductions through attrition, rather than layoffs.  Lynn residents expressed disappointment and frustration that they were losing a hospital that has served them for more than a century.

Norton said the Salem and Lynn campuses together lost more than $20 million last year, which he blamed on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements insufficient to meet costs. About 60 percent of the medical center’s patients are on Medicare or Medicaid, the government programs for seniors and the poor, which pay lower rates than commercial insurance pays.

Union’s closing is no shocker since many community hospitals — particularly those that treat high numbers of low-income patients and rely on government reimbursements — are struggling financially.

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Maya Haynes is a dual-degree student Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts with majors in sociology and public health, and a contributor to Medical Groups. She is committed to making sure vulnerable populations in the United States are provided with the knowledge and resources to best plan and care for their families. She regularly volunteers at local preschools and community centers to assess the needs to of the populations she plans on serving.