Hospital closing program for mental illness, addiction

JAIME CAMPOS/Staff photoA day treatment program for those struggling with mental illness and addiction at Beverly Hospital is closing and clients are being directed to program sites in Gloucester and Lynn. The program, called the partial hospitalization program, has been housed in a separate building on the hospital campus off Herrick Street.

BEVERLY — Beth Israel Lahey Health is planning to close a day treatment program at Beverly Hospital for people struggling with mental illness and addiction.

The program, called the partial hospitalization program, will continue to be held at Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester and BayRidge Hospital in Lynn, but will no longer be held at Beverly Hospital, officials confirmed.

A spokesman for Beth Israel Lahey Health said in a statement that Addison Gilbert and BayRidge have "optimal clinical space and resources to meet the needs of this growing patient population and we intend to fully integrate the Beverly Hospital program into those sites."

"Bringing the clinical staff together in the Gloucester and Lynn locations will position the program for future growth and give us the ability to offer services to more patients in need," spokesman Christopher Murphy said.

Gerald Sullivan, who attended the program at Beverly Hospital in 2016, said shutting down the Beverly site will make it more difficult for people in the area seeking treatment for mental illness and addiction.

"It's a vital program," he said.

Sullivan said traveling to Lynn is difficult for some people who need treatment. He said he was unaware of the Gloucester program, even though he lives in Gloucester less than a mile from Addison Gilbert Hospital. The Beverly Hospital website describes the Gloucester program, called DISCOVER, as "similarly structured" to the partial hospitalization program.

The partial hospitalization program is described on the website as an "intensive, short-term and high structured treatment program designed to continue gains and to prevent relapse and hospital admission."

Clients often use the program to transition back to the community after being hospitalized. It includes group counseling, case management, a daily psychiatric assessment, family meetings, and a 12-step oriented recovery program. Services are available five days a week, with weekend support if necessary.

Sullivan estimated that 10 to 20 people are in the program in Beverly at any one time.

Sullivan credited the program for helping stabilize his life after struggling with mental illness, including obsessive compulsive disorder, and alcohol addiction. He said he was committed to forced hospitalization in 2016, then attended the partial hospitalization program for two or three weeks after he was released.

"You learn coping skills," he said. "You just learn how to be a better member of society."

Sullivan said he hasn't had a drink in the 3 1/2 years since he left the program. He has continued to meet with an "alumni group" of former clients every week at Beverly Hospital, but said he does not know if those meetings will continue.

Sullivan said the alumni group was told that the Beverly program will close on Friday, Sept. 13.

Murphy, the hospital spokesman, said all full-time staff members at the Beverly Hospital location have been offered equal positions at the Addison Gilbert and BayRidge program sites.

Beverly Hospital became part of Beth Israel Lahey Health last November after a merger between Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health. At the time, Lahey interim CEO Dr. Richard Nesto said the new organization had "no intention of reducing our commitment to the existing facilities we have."

A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said that Beth Israel Lahey Health is required to notify the state of its plan to discontinue the partial hospitalization program in Beverly. The spokeswoman, Marybeth McCabe, said DPH had not received any notice as of Friday morning.

McCabe said the closure may not trigger the state's "essential service closure process," which requires public notice and review by the state. She said DPH would have to assess whether the change would constitute a "substantial closure of the hospital's overall ambulatory services." 

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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