NATICK, MA — The emergency room at Leonard Morse Hospital in Natick will close on Oct. 25, the hospital owner has confirmed, which is the culmination of a plan announced early in 2020 to consolidate medical services in Framingham.
A small sign recently appeared outside the Leonard Morse entrance along Union Street advertising the closure. A spokesperson for Tenet Healthcare in Massachusetts, which owns the MetroWest Medical Center, confirmed the closing date on Tuesday.
Tenet in January notified the state of plans to shift emergency services, surgery and intensive care from Leonard Morse to Framingham Union Hospital. Leonard Morse will become a center for behavioral health after the ER closure.
“We envision the Leonard Morse Hospital campus becoming a unique behavioral health specialty center dedicated to the mental health of our community for child, adolescent, adult and geriatric psychiatric care,” reads a letter from MetroWest Medical Center CEO Andrew Harding. “Behavioral health is a challenge in our community, and it is critical we optimize our services to help address the issue.”
The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) has opposed the idea, saying it will lead to reduced medical care in the Natick area.
“This will no doubt result in longer wait times for patients in the Framingham Union emergency department and in dangerous delays for patients in need of ICU and inpatient care,” MNA spokesman David Schildmeier said in a statement in January.
In his letter, Harding said that the Framingham Union ER is only six miles, and that Tenet plans to upgrade the ER in Framingham.
The Leonard Morse change was put on hold in the spring due to coronavirus. There were no coronavirus patients at the hospital as of this week, according to state data.
Tenet is also pursuing a plan to end pediatric care at Framingham Union Hospital by the end of 2020. The hospital will still offer emergency care for pediatric patients.