From fewer psychiatric care units to cutting back hours at teen health centers, the Cambridge Health Alliance has announced a long list of changes to its services. As part of a “comprehensive reorganization plan” to help straighten up the organization’s major economic slump, the CHA unveiled a new framework on Wednesday aimed to carve out a current budget deficit of $22.5 million.

From fewer psychiatric care units to cutting back hours at teen health centers, the Cambridge Health Alliance has announced a long list of changes to its services.


As part of a “comprehensive reorganization plan” to help straighten up the organization’s major economic slump, the CHA unveiled a new framework on Wednesday aimed to carve out a current budget deficit of $22.5 million. CHA will continue to operate its three area hospital campuses, but a list of layoffs, clinics closures and the relocation of primary care services is scheduled to take place.


A year from now, 300 additional health alliance positions will be cut, according to CHA spokesperson Doug Bailey.


“There will be short-term pain, but this proposal is the best option to preserve critical health-care services and maintain our commitment to our core patient populations and communities,” said Cambridge Health Alliance CEO Dennis Keefe in a press release.


Cambridge Health Alliance has scheduled community forums on Feb. 3, 4 and 5 to review the service impacts and reconfiguration plan in greater detail. Formal approval from the CHA’s Board of Trustees is expected by April with initial changes completed by June 30. Phases of the reconfiguration process will continue into fiscal 2010.


Last fall, the Cambridge Health Alliance was faced with a $55 million reduction from its expected annual spending as a result of Governor Deval Patrick’s emergency budget cuts statewide. CHA’s Board of Trustees approved a deficit budget of $22.5 million for fiscal 2009.


As a result, the CHA has already implemented a hiring freeze and major layoffs to its full time staff. Cuts were also made to capital spending, travel and other discretionary spending, clinic closures – such as the Oliver Farnum Senior Health Center – and a freeze on executive raises and annual bonuses.


“While extremely challenging and difficult for us all, by taking swift action now we hope to transform Cambridge Health Alliance’s health-care system in a way that continues our mission of excellence in health care for all our patients and communities, especially those most in need,” said Mary Cassesso, chairman of the CHA Board of Trustees.


Over the past year, Cambridge Health Alliance has worked with Cambridge officials, Ernst & Young LLP’s Health Sciences Advisory Service practice and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to tackle its extreme financial pressures and discuss cost savings initiatives.


Along with the three hospital campuses, CHA currently includes more than 20 primary care and specialty practices; the Cambridge Public Health Department; and the Network Health managed care plan. Its patient volume of 700,000 primary care, ambulatory specialty care and emergency services annually also includes more than 150,000 mental health patient encounters each year. With annual operating revenues of about $480 million, it employs nearly 3,900 health-care workers and 320 doctors in its physician organization.


State Sen. Anthony D. Galluccio said he will continue to work with state officials to help maintain CHA’s services.


“While a reduction in important services and employment positions in this challenging economic climate is clearly difficult and heartfelt, the overall goal of maintaining all three major hospital campuses as well as many neighborhood health clinics has been achieved,” he said in a statement.


How will this affect you?


· Inpatient pediatric unit at the Cambridge Hospital will close by March 31. Inpatient medical/surgery at the Somerville Hospital will relocate to TCH by June 15.


· Eight inpatient psychiatry units will consolidate to five units. The Somerville Hospital Geriatric psych unit will relocate to Whidden Hospital. Adult general psych unit at the Cambridge Hospital will close by March 31. Somerville Hospital adolescent assessment unit will relocate to the Cambridge Hospital, and Somerville Hospital addictions unit will close by June 30.


· Full preoperative services will continue at Cambridge and Whidden campuses five days per week, evenings and weekends for emergencies; Somerville campus operating rooms will provide low-risk ambulatory surgery only, on a three-day per week schedule.


· Ambulatory Primary Care Dental Services:North Cambridge Health Center will relocate and combine with Cambridge Family North. Riverside Health Center practice will relocate and combine with Windsor Street Health Center. East Somerville Health Center will relocate and combine with the Broadway Health Center. The Winthrop Primary Care Practice will close by May, and patients will be referred to clinicians at the Revere and Malden health centers. Everett and Somerville dental practices will relocate and combine with the Cambridge dental practice at Windsor Street Health Center.


· The Teen Health Centers in Cambridge, Somerville and Everett hours of operation will conform to the school calendar as of this April. The Everett Primary Care Practice will relocate and combine with the Revere Health Center practice.


· The Cambridge Eye Center at 65 Beacon St. will relocate and combine with the Somerville Eye Center in the Somerville Hospital Medical Arts Building. Medical and surgical specialty outpatient services in Cambridge and Somerville will consolidate wherever possible on all campuses, consistent with the inpatient complement and physical facility requirements.


Source: Cambridge Health Alliance


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