News

Response to 2018 Department Closures/Staff Cuts

  • March 18, 2019

March 15, 2019

Response to 2018 department closures/staff cuts

A relationship between a patient and a provider starts with transparency. We believe our relationship with the public as a community healthcare provider requires us to follow the same standards.

In 2018, Whittier Street Health Center did have to close our Orthodontic Program and Urgent Care Clinic. In addition, we also reduced some staff from our behavioral health services.

In anticipation of significant funding shortfalls, we reduced 13 positions, not 20 as reported, in June of 2018. These positions were later reinstated.

As a community health center which prides itself on the diversity of our services, this decision was not taken lightly.

Some have accused Whittier of not addressing the status of patients or employees in the programs we had to remove.

What followed was an investigation by the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health, Division of Licensure regarding the closure of the Orthodontic Service. We would like to review the results of that investigation.

Released in January 2019, the investigation concluded that allegations of “abandonment and potential dental harm” to 70 patients, as unsubstantiated.

It further determined that, as we had stated, the orthodontic services “underwent a planned closure due to significant financial constraints.” The investigation also found that appropriate staff and patient notification and transition were provided.

The Dept. of Public Health reached identical conclusions regarding the closure of the Urgent Care center.

Unfortunately, the challenges of 2018 did not end there.

In October, after careful consideration of the impact on our patients and employees, the management team concluded it would be prudent at this time to eliminate 10 positions.

These included one part time physician, two part-time dental providers, and two behavioral health senior clinicians. It also included five administrative positions.

Any patients impacted by that development were contacted multiple times in a variety of ways. All were offered assistance to seamlessly transition to alternative providers. Some chose to accept our assistance, some did not, and some continue to work with us today.

The choices we had to make were hard. We experienced an unanticipated cut of $680,000 in grant funding, and ended fiscal year 2018 with a $1.3 million loss.

Our commitment to provide access to healthcare and social services for all members of the community regardless of their ability to pay is not an easy task.

But that is our commitment, and we refuse to waiver on that. If it involves a reevaluation of our services – adding some, eliminating others – we will do whatever is needed for the betterment of our patients, community and dedicated employees.

As we push into new frontiers and offer new services, we look forward to growing with you and continuing to serve your health and social service needs.

To further our desire to engage and be fully transparent, we invite you to view our 2018 Fiscal Year Annual Report.

About Whittier Street Health Center (www.wshc.org)

Whittier Street Health Center is a Joint Commission accredited, private, non-profit, independently licensed community health center dedicated to providing high quality, reliable and accessible primary healthcare and support services for diverse populations to promote wellness and eliminate health and social disparities. Serving close to 25,000 clients with approximately 130,000 clinic visits and 28,000 community outreach visits annually, Whittier has a patient base which is ethnically and racially diverse and includes significant numbers of individuals from Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, the South End and Greater Boston. Whittier provides a comprehensive array of 40 healthcare programs and services designed to meet the primary health care, behavioral health, and social needs of the community. Whittier is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a level 3 (highest level) patient-centered medical home. Learn more at www.wshc.org.