LEOMINSTER — As residents and work crews are still in the process of recovering from last week’s flood, the city sent a letter to UMass Memorial Health saying it expects the maternity ward at Leominster Hospital to stay open during a time when so many resources have been diverted.
However, a statement from UMass Memorial Health said the Sept. 23 closure date for the maternity ward has not changed.
“We understand concerns expressed about the timing of the closure of HealthAlliance-Clinton’s inpatient maternity unit in relation to the ongoing challenges facing the community,” said a statement from UMass Memorial Health provided by spokesperson Shelly Hazlett.
The health care company said they have offered to support the flood relief in a variety of ways, including a charitable donation of $20,000 to one flood relief fund, and, considering the condition of roadways and city infrastructure, will make any adjustments needed.
“We extend our support to our community members impacted by the flooding in Leominster last week and recognize the importance of helping each other in times of disaster,” said the statement from UMass Memorial Health. “We have been…offering our assistance [to the city] and continue to work with clinicians across our system to provide urgent and emergency health services to those seeking care. We also remain on-call to support ongoing rescue and evacuation efforts, as needed.”
Earlier in the day Mayor Dean Mazzarella sent a letter on behalf of the city departments and his “many constituents” to say that there is an expectation that the hospital would keep the maternity ward open while the flood recovery and damage repairs continue.
“All city departments are working 24/7 to address the needs of the people of Leominster. On behalf of my constituents and city departments, I expect that you won’t close the maternity ward during this time,” said Mazzarella in the statement. “Currently we have streets closed with substantial damage. We have over 500 residents that reported damage to homes since we asked just two days ago. That number will continue to climb.”
While UMass Memorial Health said the closing date won’t change, they’ve taken extra measures to ensure that maternity patients continue to have access to services.
“Following the closure, the UMass Memorial Health system will continue supporting the residents of Leominster and making health resources available to the community. HealthAlliance-Clinton has also taken additional steps to ensure North Central patients are fully supported,” the statement from UMass Memorial Health said. “We have ensured sufficient UMass Memorial Medical Center staff and physical capacity to accept all deliveries that currently occur at HA-C along with other program enhancements.”
The letter from Mazzarella addresses other issues still to be handled, such as the loss of one emergency vehicle.
“Electrical panels were submerged in many apartment buildings and those people are currently in our hotels. Our commuter rail is under repair. We lost one ambulance to the flooding” Mazzarella said.
UMass Memorial Health said that they have notified the state that the maternity ward closure plan remains the same and that the closure date has not been changed.
“In adherence with the DPH’s regulatory review process for the closure of essential services, we will be closing the unit as planned on Sept. 23. DPH is aware of this and will shift its focus to monitoring and enforcement of our plan,” said the statement. “UMass Memorial Health donated $20,000 to the city’s United Way Leominster fund to help address weather-related damage in the community.”
Mazzarella said the city is hoping the federal government will be able to assist with the flood relief.
“We are currently under a local and state declaration of state of emergency and are working toward a federal disaster declaration by the Biden Administration,” Mazzarella said in the letter.