Massachusetts Memorial Hospital has announced plans to close its inpatient maternity wing at the Leominster campus in the fall. The decision was attributed to a steady decline in births in north-central Massachusetts and a staffing shortage that made it challenging to consistently staff the maternity inpatient wards. Hospital officials have said that the closure of the delivery department will take place on September 22. The hospital’s decision to close the ward has been met with opposition from state legislators representing the region, who plan to hold protests next week. A rally has been scheduled for Tuesday at 6 pm at the hospital to prevent the closure.
Steve Roach, the director of Massachusetts Memorial Health Alliance-Clinton Hospital, said that the decision to close the maternity ward was difficult for the health care system, as their caregivers over the decades have helped thousands of parents and families navigate the journey of childbirth to new loved ones.
In response to the hospital’s decision, members of the state delegation representing Leominster and the surrounding area condemned the move, calling it an unjust decision that threatened the health of patients. The closure leaves marginalized families without access to reliable transportation, forcing them to give birth to babies in the crowded emergency department of Leominster or on the side of the highway en route to Gardner or Worcester.
Over the past decade, North Central University has served the Burbank Hospital in Fitchburg’s Mental Health and Emergency Center, Clinton’s endoscopy and outpatient services, and cardiology and respiratory services, according to a statement posted on a Facebook page. The statement was shared on social media by Natalie Higgins, Meg Kilcoyne, and Congressman Mike Kuschmelek.