Business

Psychiatric hospital cited for patient-care lapses allowed to reopen

JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF
Westwood Lodge.

Westwood Lodge, a psychiatric hospital cited for repeated patient care problems, will be allowed to reopen Tuesday under increased oversight, the Baker administration has decided.

State regulators had stopped admissions to the Westwood Lodge children’s unit on April 26 and then closed the unit entirely after discovering serious lapses, including the case of a 9-year-old boy who had been given the wrong medication for nine days.

Patient admissions to the rest of the hospital were closed May 12. Westwood Lodge is part of Arbour Health System, which is owned by Universal Health Services Inc., the largest psychiatric hospital company in the country — and one of the most profitable.

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Arbour’s six Massachusetts hospitals have been criticized repeatedly by state regulators in recent years for having too few staff on the units, filthy conditions, and for not properly monitoring patients, a Boston Globe review found.

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An external monitor has been working with the hospital for the past seven weeks and has documented improvements, which regulators said they confirmed during two recent inspections. The hospital has filled key leadership positions, appointed a director of operations who is on call at all times, and hired more nurses and doctors, according to the Department of Mental Health.

Dania O’Connor, the hospital’s chief executive, said Westwood Lodge renovated patient units and nurses stations, strengthened group programming, and improved treatment planning during the closure to new admissions.

“We have emerged as a stronger organization and are determined to be a leader and preferred provider of mental health treatment serving the Commonwealth,” she said in an e-mail. “We are confident that these improvements will be positively received by patients and their families, as well as by our dedicated staff.”

There are currently two patients in an adult unit at Westwood Lodge, and the hospital will be allowed to gradually raise that number. O’Connor said two patients would be added each day. The hospital has agreed not to reopen the children’s unit, and adolescent unit admissions remain closed.

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At one point last year at Westwood Lodge, regulators discovered children sleeping on bare plastic mattresses in filthy rooms. The hospital promised improvements, but when inspectors returned this April they found even more serious infractions. Those included the 9-year-old boy who had been given the wrong drug. He also had a severely bruised face and had not been taken to the emergency room for six days after the injury.

Arbour has defended its record, saying it’s difficult to recruit mental health workers and that it cares for challenging patients other hospitals refuse to take. After the boy’s medication error, Arbour executives said they improved the medication administration system.

Westwood Lodge, Pembroke Hospital, and Lowell Treatment Center operate under a single license, which expired in June. The state extended the license, an action it described as routine, until officials finish reviewing the hospitals’ renewal application.

“Westwood Lodge has fulfilled requirements to reopen adult admissions,’’ Baker administration spokeswoman Sharon Torgerson wrote in an e-mail. The monitor will remain in place for six months, regulators said.

Liz Kowalczyk can be reached at kowalczyk@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeLizK.