By Gintautas Dumcius
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE — The Department of Public Health on Tuesday signed off on the proposed closure of Quincy Medical Center, set for midnight on Friday.
Steward Health Care, the owner of the hospital, said Quincy Medical will halt operations on Dec. 26, at 11:59 p.m., with a satellite emergency facility set to open in the same location at 12 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 27.
“Because of significant declines in patient volume, the Department has determined that this closure timeline is necessary and appropriate to protect the health and safety of patients served by QMC and the Department waives the remainder of the 90 day closure notice period,” Department of Public Health official Sherman Lohnes wrote in a Tuesday letter to Steward.
In a release, Steward said that Quincy Medical as of Tuesday no longer has any inpatients.
“We are appreciative of the thoughtful review of our transition plan and the guidance we received from the Department of Public Health,” Mark Girard, president of Steward Hospitals, said in a statement.
Local elected officials have criticized Steward for the speed with which the for-profit company has moved to close the hospital after it claimed in November that it suffered financial losses and a decreasing number of patients at the Quincy hospital. Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office has also raised the prospect of legal action in response to the closure.
The closure was originally set for Dec. 31, and then Steward said it would be willing to keep it open up to Feb. 4, 2015.
“QMC must ensure adequate staffing, services and supplies remain available at levels sufficient to meet the needs of its patients throughout the closure process,” Lohnes added in the letter. “The Department will continue to monitor QMC’s closure, and must be notified once closure is complete.”
The satellite emergency facility, which Steward plans to keep open until Dec. 31, 2015 through Carney Hospital’s license, will have emergency room physicians and nurses, with CT scans and ultrasound, and pharmacy and laboratory services. Carney Hospital is also owned by Steward.
“We have made clear that any efforts to close Quincy Medical Center must maintain emergency services beyond Dec. 31. This is an important step in that process and we are continuing our discussions with Steward,” said Christopher Loh, a spokesman for Coakley.
Steward also said a “community care network” will include “urgent care, radiology and lab services” Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, at 54 Miller St. in Quincy. Radiology services will also be available at that location. Primary care physicians and specialists will be available at 54 Miller St. and 700 Congress St. in Quincy.
“We understand the importance of maintaining the patient-physician relationship and we have relocated all of the Quincy Medical Center physicians to nearby office locations,” Girard said.
A free shuttle will run between the facilities, the Quincy Center T Station, Carney Hospital in Dorchester, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, and Manet Community Health Center locations.