The future of Union Hospital will be discussed this Thursday at 6 p.m.
By THOMAS GRILLO
Correction: Due to incorrect information provided to The Item, a previous version of this story listed the wrong location for the Thursday night meeting. It will be held at the Franco American War Veterans Hall at 535 Western Ave. at 6 p.m.
LYNN — Residents who want an update on the future of Union Hospital will get a chance to hear from hospital executives and public officials this week.
At the urging of activists and unions, the Urgent/Emergent Care Planning Group will hold a public hearing at the Franco American War Veterans Post on Western Avenue Thursday at 6 p.m.
The session was organized after the New Lynn Coalition, North Shore Labor Council, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Neighbor to Neighbor, and the Massachusetts Senior Action Council complained about the panel’s lack of transparency. They argued that it’s been difficult for the public to get information about the hospital’s future since the sessions are closed to the public.
Last year, the Department of Public Health approved a $180 million expansion of North Shore Medical Center (NSMC) that will close Union and move the beds to a new Salem campus in 2019. The medical facilities in Lynn and Salem are a part of Partners HealthCare.
Tyrék Lee, executive vice president of 1199SEIU, said the public will expect to hear how the group plans to address what will happen next and the future of emergency care in Lynn.
“The community will call for clear and concrete next steps,” he said. “They may not have all the answers in this forum, but there has to be a transparent way to get information going forward.”
Earlier this year, Dr. David J. Roberts, NSMC’s president, told The Item the city’s only hospital will be shuttered in 2019 and sold. The sale could be sooner if the need for service continues to dwindle, he said. While he pledged to maintain ER services in Lynn, it’s unclear where they would be housed.
But State Sen. Thomas M. McGee, a member of the panel who testified at the Department of Public Health to halt the closing, said he’s not convinced the entire campus will close.
“His (Dr. Roberts) discussion about the hospital’s closing was premature,” he said. “That’s what this meeting is all about. I hope that with these ongoing discussions with the new president at NSMC, as well as with this working group, we find a way to preserve urgent and emergency service that is good for the community moving forward.”
Laura Fleming, a NSMC spokeswoman, said there’s no question Partners will consolidate most of its services in Salem in 2019 and 2020.
But in contrast to Roberts’ statement, Fleming said “no decision has been made about what will happen to the campus.”
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, a member of the group, did not respond to a request for comment.
Thomas Grillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.