- Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll
- Executive Office of Health and Human Services
Media Contact for Governor Healey Orders Statewide Maternal Health Review to Ensure Equitable Care in All Communities
Karissa Hand, Press Secretary
Boston — Governor Maura Healey today ordered two reviews to ensure that Massachusetts residents, particularly in rural and underserved communities, have access to high-quality health care, including inpatient services, prenatal, and postpartum care. The order comes after UMass Memorial Health Care confirmed to the Department of Public Health (DPH) that it could not delay the closure of the obstetrics inpatient service at its Leominster campus due to unsafe staffing shortages, despite state efforts to delay the closure.
The unit is scheduled to close on September 23. DPH has been working closely with UMass Memorial as they develop a plan to ensure access to prenatal care in the Leominster region. The plan includes transportation services for OB patients to make sure they have access to high-quality birthing and inpatient care with other hospitals in the area. DPH will monitor the plan’s implementation as well as UMass Memorial’s commitment to continue providing high quality prenatal and postpartum care in the Leominster area.
In accordance with the Governor’s directive, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services will lead a comprehensive review, with a focus on health equity and health outcomes, that includes consideration of access to specialized services like doula care and supports for nutrition, mental health and substance use issues. An additional review will focus on regional access to essential services in the Northern Worcester County area, in the wake of the Leominster campus closure.
“Our administration is deeply concerned about the Leominster closure and health care access generally across northern Worcester County. We are committed to ensuring that all Massachusetts residents have access to high-quality health care, including safe and equitable maternal care. We have the greatest health care system in the country, but there is work we must do to ensure that all of our residents, especially in rural communities and communities of color, have access to comprehensive maternal health care,” said Governor Healey. “That’s why I’m ordering a review of maternal health services across the state, and a review of essential health services in the Northern Worcester County area following the closure of the UMass Memorial Leominster maternity unit.”
“We recognize the important role that each health care provider plays in our communities, and the access challenges that can come with the closure of a clinical service, especially in our rural areas,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “These reviews will complement the work of our Director of Rural Affairs in making sure that we have true regional health equity and a strong health care network available in every community across Massachusetts.”
Governor Healey has instructed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kate Walsh, Undersecretary for Health Dr. Kiame Mahaniah and Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Robbie Goldstein to complete two projects to be completed by November 15:
Conduct a review of prenatal, postpartum and birthing services across the state, through a lens of health equity and health outcomes, with a focus on availability of quality services in rural and other underserved communities and produce a set of recommendations for ensuring that high quality services are reasonably available to all Massachusetts communities.
Conduct a review of access to all essential health services in the Northern Worcester County area and develop a plan to support or improve access where needed. This will include a review of hospital services, community-based care, and social supports. It will also include consultation and collaboration with providers and community leaders in the area to ensure that access to critical services is protected following the closure of the Leominster inpatient maternity unit.
“We know that there is much work to be done to address racial and regional inequities in maternity care and health care across the state. We are committed to reviewing all of the factors impacting health equity, including maternal care, to improve health outcomes,” said HHS Secretary Walsh. “This review process will help guide policy decisions as we work to improve the health equity and outcomes for all people across the state.”