- Quincy Medical Center, a 196-bed acute care facility which has been open for 124 years, is scheduled to close by the end of this year. This will be the largest hospital closure in Massachusetts in 10 years. Observers say the closure is happening because there's just too many beds in the area south of Boston where it operates.
- The closure, which will put almost 700 workers out of a job, comes in the wake of severe and persistent financial losses. QMC, which was bought out of bankruptcy by Steward in 2011, should lose $20 million this year, despite Steward's investment of $100 million since the acquisition on equipment, maintenance and other upgrades.
- All that being said, the closure of QMC isn't a done deal yet. When Steward acquired the facility in 2011, it signed an agreement with state attorney general Martha Coakley that it would keep the hospital open at least six and a half years and give 18 months' notice before shutting down. What's more, state law demands that hospitals give 90 days' notice to the state's Department of Public Health and go through a public hearing before closing. Coakley's office will investigate the closure: "We have just been notified about this decision and are currently reviewing it in the context of Steward's legal obligations," Coakley said in a statement.
Given the circumstances, it's hardly surprising that Steward wants to close Quincy Medical Center quickly. After all, just 40% of its beds are generally filled, and about 70% of its patients are on Medicaid or Medicare. More desirable commercially insured patients are frequently going to some of the dozen hospitals based within a 10-mile radius of the dying facility.The big, famous teaching hospitals in Boston proper are also siphoning away patients.
What makes it notable is that the planned closure follows closely on the heels of the shutdown of two other sizeable facilities this year, including rehab facility Radius Specialty Hospital and North Adams Regional Hospital. Seeing three hospitals close in a single metro area within a year is quite unusual, and suggests that a massive restructuring of the entire market is underway. Moreover, given the apparent over-bedding in QMC's service area, it wouldn't be surprising to hear about additional hospitals going out of business. Most likely, the Boston-area hospital market of 2016 will look quite different from the one in place today.
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