Target: Massachusetts State Senator John Keenan
Goal: Pressure private hospital to overhaul conditions in its psychiatric ward after a surprise state inspection revealed filthy, dangerous conditions that prompted a temporary shutdown
Recently a surprise state inspection of Massachusetts Quincy Medical Center’s psychiatric ward for seniors found that the unit suffered from filthy conditions and patient neglect. Quincy’s State Senator issued a “tepid” response to the disgraceful conditions, putting his trust in the hospital to reform. Urge the senator to take a stronger stance against this abuse of mentally ill seniors and to put pressure on the for-profit hospital to make changes immediately.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) report, patients were “sad, depressed and not being adequately cared for.” The unit “generally looked dirty, had on odor permeating throughout” and patients were left in bed for long periods. An activity room for patients was apparently being used for storage, and patients were left in bed wearing only their hospital gowns, “exposed” and “vulnerable.” Furniture was described as worn and dirty, with some springs exposed. One patient was found in her bed “crying and covered in feces” and was largely ignored until DMH officials stepped in to get her help. Still, according to the report, nurses delayed in getting the woman assistance, and an activities staff member ended up assisting the woman, even though it was not her job. The report also alleges that staff were confused about paperwork and ill-prepared to handle psychiatric patients.
The report led the DMH to order the unit to close for a week, but it quickly reopened. According to The Patriot Ledger, State Senator John Keenan of Quincy said “he trusted Steward Healthcare, the for-profit hospital chain that recently took over the city hospital” to take corrective action.
Tell State Senator John Keenan that trust is not enough to fix very real and disturbing problems in the mental health care industry. Congratulate the DMH for their action, and urge Senator Keenan to hold the hospital accountable for reform.
Dear State Senator John Keenan,
I urge you to take action against severe patient neglect and deplorable conditions at Quincy Medical Center as recounted in the Department of Mental Health’s recently-released report of its surprise inspection of the hospital’s psychiatric unit. According to the report, the unit “had an odor permeating throughout” and patients were “sad, depressed and not being adequately cared for.” One woman described in the report was left languishing and crying in her bed, covered in feces. This is unacceptable and it is understandable that the DMH shut the unit down temporarily until the most egregious problems were addressed.
I understand that you trust Steward Healthcare to make the necessary changes to improve the lives of the psychiatric patients there. This is, however, not enough to ensure that real lasting changes are made. Please support the DMH’s efforts and keep the pressure on the hospital to make serious reforms in its psychiatric wing by speaking out against this treatment of mentally ill seniors in Quincy.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Rosie O’Beirne via Flickr