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Rally Today in Holyoke to Keep Behavioral Health Care Local, Protest Baystate Health Closure Plan

HOLYOKE, Mass., Sept. 23, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- A coalition of nurses, mental health professionals, patients, families, elected officials and other community members who are fighting to preserve local inpatient behavioral health services will hold a rally on Monday, Sept. 23 in Holyoke to protest Baystate Health's plan to close all of the mental health beds in Greenfield, Palmer and Westfield.

Baystate: Keep Behavioral Health Care Local Rally

Date:

Monday, Sept. 23, 2019

Time:

5:30 p.m.

Location:

45 Lower Westfield Rd., Holyoke MA. The former site of the Holyoke Geriatric
Authority that Baystate Health and US HealthVest purchased to build a for-profit mental health facility.

Speakers:

State Rep. Aaron Vega, Mayor of Holyoke Alex Morse, Baystate Franklin Medial Center psychiatric nurse and MNA Bargaining Committee Chair Donna Stern, advocates and local patients who use behavioral health services

Catherine Castonguay was hospitalized for several days in the psychiatric unit at Wing Memorial Hospital this time last year. She will speak on Monday about the importance of local mental health care to her and her family.

"Asking for help with a mental health crisis means baring the worst of yourself, and you have no option other than to believe the person who becomes responsible for your safety can be trusted with this task," Castonguay said. "Luckily I placed my trust well in the professionals at Wing. I met people who genuinely cared about my well-being, and the well-being of my fellow patients. There was always someone available to talk to. My family visited every day, as Wing was accessible to us. I felt safe, and it gave me the time I needed to stabilize and develop a plan for management after I was discharged."

MNA nurses and healthcare professionals have also called on Baystate to dissolve its partnership with US HealthVest following a Seattle Times investigation into the for-profit company and Baystate's decision to "review" its partnership with the company. US HealthVest partnered with Baystate Health earlier this year to build a for-profit behavioral health facility in Holyoke. The Times investigation details patient neglect, fraudulent documentation of care, dangerous staffing levels and even an assault linked to cost savings efforts.

"Baystate Health should immediately end its partnership with US HealthVest, promise to preserve local mental health services and rebuild community trust," said Donna Stern, a psychiatric nurse at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, chair of the BFMC Bargaining Committee and a board member of the MNA. "Our coalition is made up of many people who would be most directly impacted by Baystate's plan to close local mental health beds. We are rallying to hold Baystate accountable to its non-profit mission to provide equal access to safe, quality care."

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Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.

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SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association