Faulkner amends clinic closure plans

JAMAICA HILLS—Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital has altered its plan to close its in-patient detox unit in response to the state Department of Public Health’s (DPH) feedback following a public hearing last month.

The dedicated unit will still close, but it will be replaced by nine beds in the hospital’s general population instead of the six proposed in the original plan. Currently, the Faulkner clinic offers 15 detox beds, but only has enough resources to maintain 10 of them in use.

DPH specifically requested the change from six to nine beds. Faulkner, located at 1153 Centre St., will keep the nine beds for a six-month trial period, after which Faulkner will then decide whether to keep all nine beds or reduce them to the six beds originally proposed. May 1 is the proposed transition date.

“Our concern for patient [care] has not gone away,” Faulkner Professional Clinical Services Vice President Ed Liston-Kraft told the Gazette last week. “We’re trying to locate those patients in a ‘unit-within-a-unit’ in response to feedback” received at the hearing, he added.

Those patients would be located close to each other in the general medical unit to maintain the intra-personal aspect of the clinic that was praised at the DPH hearing. They would also be co-managed by a general medical team and a specialized detox team, Liston-Kraft said.

“That way, we can manage both sides of the problem,” he said.

According to Liston-Kraft, Faulkner will continue to consult with DPH to make sure both entities are satisfied with the transition.

“DPH looks forward to working with Faulkner to address the concerns raised in the DPH response letter,” DPH spokesperson Anne Roach told the Gazette last week.

“There will be some compromise with what DPH will get [Faulkner] to do, but I think the [dedicated] detox unit is history,” state Rep. Liz Malia said. She is the chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse in the state legislature.

“[DPH] has made a finding that the inpatient substance abuse services Faulkner Hospital has proposed to discontinue are necessary for preserving access and health status in the Faulkner Hospital’s service area,” the DPH letter states.

The letter then requests more information on the existing detox unit, and Faulkner’s proposed transition plans as well as mitigation plans.

The letter also mentions that, “notably, beyond Faulkner Hospital staff, no individual or entity testified on behalf [of the clinic’s] closure.”

“Change and innovation is scary. We want to be more transparent with everybody,” Liston-Kraft said. “We’ve got lots of work groups on the ground to make sure we’re ready. There’s lots of planning work going on now.”

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