Former Martha Eliot official questions ending service

March 27, 2013
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A Jamaica Plain doctor who is a former official at Martha Eliot Health Center in a letter to the Gazette is questioning Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) decision to end adult service at the health center.

Dr. John Jewett, who worked at MEHC for 13 years, including three years as the director of adult medicine, wrote that he does not understand BCH decision or explanation.

According to Jewett, because hospitals benefit financially from neighborhoods when its residents become ill, they should be asked to help keep them well.

“Children’s recent announcement about MEHC is an unfortunate, abrupt retreat from this longstanding commitment and it creates the appearance of putting their own financial interests before the well-being of the greater community,” he wrote in the letter.

BCH spokesperson Rob Graham said that the hospital affiliates with 11 community health centers, providing funding to ensure high quality pediatric care. He also said BCH has provided more than a million dollars over the past 10 years to support capital projects at affiliated and non-affiliated health centers in Boston.

“Health centers are essential partners in Boston Children’s efforts to increase access to preventive care, manage chronic disease and provide treatment for some of the most prevalent health issues facing Boston children and youth,” said Graham.

Countering BCH’s claim that it wants to focus on children health services at MEHC, Jewett cited the fact that health centers often rely on multiple institutions for care.

BCH has also said that future changes in the health care industry is another reason of ending adult services. Jewett wrote those are “theoretical” and is a case of BCH of “putting the cart before the horse.”

BCH announced in January that it is ending service for about 5,000 adult patients at MEHC, which is located at 75 Bickford St. in Jackson Square. Adult service is provided in partnership with Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), which was not consulted about the decision. BCH is also reviewing what care to provide to children at MEHC.

BCH is slated to hold a community meeting on ending the service tonight at 7 p.m. at 1542 Columbus Ave.