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Hospital essential service closures

Find information about pending and completed essential service closures at Massachusetts hospitals and learn more about the essential service closure process.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

The Department of Public Health (DPH) is committed to achieving meaningful accessibility to this online environment for all users, including users with disabilities. We recognize that this version the Essential Service Closure Documentation may not work for all users. If you are a user with visual impairments who needs alternative access to the documents, please contact the Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality at (617) 624-0508 or by email at DPH.BHCSQ@state.ma.us.

Essential service closure process overview

An “essential service” is a service defined in the Hospital Licensure regulation at 105 CMR 130.020 that a Massachusetts hospital is licensed to provide. When a hospital decides to discontinue services within their facility or satellite campuses, there are several requirements that it must fulfill before it can complete the closure. This process is outlined in the Hospital Licensure regulations at 105 CMR 130.122.

The essential service closure process provides a mechanism for DPH to review a proposed closure or reduction in services and to ensure that measures have been put in place to minimize the impact on the community and address concerns that have been brought to DPH’s attention. However, DPH cannot legally require a hospital to keep a service open.​

  1. First, at least 120 days before the proposed closure date, the hospital must notify DPH of its intent to submit formal notification about the intended discontinuation of services.  The hospital must also notify those impacted by the service closure, including the hospital’s patient and family council, hospital staff, labor organizations representing the hospital’s workforce, and local and state elected officials.
  2. The hospital must then submit a formal 90-day notice of the closure to DPH, which must be provided at least 90 calendar days before the proposed closure date.
  3. DPH is required to hold a public hearing on the proposed closure of an essential service at least 60 days prior to the proposed closure date and publish a notice of a public hearing in the legal notice section of local newspaper(s) at least 21 calendar days prior to the date of the hearing. The public hearing provides interested parties the opportunity to share comments and concerns with DPH about the proposed closure.
  4. Following the hearing, DPH will provide the hospital with a determination within 15 days as to whether the service provided by the hospital is necessary for preserving access and health status within the hospital’s service area.
  5. If DPH finds the service to be necessary, the hospital is required to submit a plan for assuring access to DPH within 15 days of the finding.
  6. DPH will review this plan and if more information is needed, send the hospital written comments within 10 day of receiving the plan. The hospital must then submit a response to any comments by DPH within 10 days. This concludes the essential service closure process, and the hospital may continue with the proposed closure at this time.

Pending and recent hospital essential service closures

Cambridge Health Alliance – Somerville Hospital SEF (2020)

Public Hearing: January 30, 2020

Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital

Public Hearing: October 8, 2020

Falmouth Hospital – Inpatient Pediatric Service (2020)

Public Hearing: May 28, 2020

Holyoke Medical Center – Inpatient Obstetrics Services and Well Infant Nursery (2020)

Public Hearing: July 28, 2020

Lowell General Hospital – Saints Campus ICU and Operating Rooms (2020)

Public Hearing: February 26, 2020

Mercy Hospital, Inc. – Providence Behavioral Hospital (2020)

Public Hearing: April 30, 2020

MetroWest Medical Center – Framingham Union Hospital Inpatient Pediatric Service (2020)

MetroWest Medical Center – Leonard Morse Natick Campus (2020)

Previous filings before the hospital decided to temporarily suspend the closure process.

Hospital has restarted the closure process.

Newton-Wellesley Hospital (2020)

Shriners Hospitals for Children – Boston (2020)

Public Hearing: July 30, 2020

Steward Satellite Emergency Facility – Quincy (2020)

Public Hearing: September 1, 2020

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