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Hearings scheduled on proposed pediatric-care cuts

The Department of Public Health will hold a hearing May 8 on Cambridge Health Alliance’s plans to eliminate 11 of 27 beds for treating children and teens with acute mental illness.

Hospital officials said this month that they planned to consolidate their child and adolescent units, the latest in years of steady statewide cuts to pediatric services. While several other hospitals have psychiatry units that serve children of all ages, Cambridge Health Alliance’s Child Assessment Unit accounts for nearly one-third of the hospital mental health beds in Massachusetts designated specifically for the younger age group, typically under 12.

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After the hospital notified the state agency on April 3, the department said it would hold a public hearing. While it does not give the agency power to stop or change the plans, state law requires public review when hospitals plan to discontinue what are deemed to be “essential” services.

The hearing will take place at 2 p.m. in the Macht Auditorium on the hospital system’s Cambridge Hospital campus, at 1493 Cambridge St.

Written comments may be sent between now and the hearing date to the Division of Health Care Quality, care of the Closure Coordinator, 11th Floor, 99 Chauncy St., Boston, Mass., 02111. E-mail them to HCQLicenseAction@massmail.state.ma.us.

The agency also will review a plan by Steward Health Care to close a 13-bed unit for treating children with acute medical needs at Morton Hospital in Taunton. That hearing is slated for Friday at the Taunton Public Library.

Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at cconaboy@boston.com. Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.
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