South

Union says patients sent out of Quincy

Doctors said to favor other sites

A union representing health care workers at Quincy Medical Center says patients are being steered away from the hospital by Granite Medical Group, a large medical practice in Quincy affiliated with South Shore Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton.

Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union says Granite Medical Group struck an agreement with Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton in 2012 and since then its physicians have been steering patients away from Quincy and sending them to Milton instead.

Robert C. Calway, chief operating officer at Granite Medical Group, says the union’s blame is misplaced and should be directed at Quincy Medical Center’s owner, the for-profit hospital chain Steward Health Care System.

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Calway said that for many years Granite and Quincy Medical Center had a “very long and dedicated relationship” and that “the change was precipitated on Steward’s purchase” of Quincy Medical Center.

After the sale to Steward, Calway said Steward pushed Granite physicians out of Quincy Medical Center and canceled their contracts.

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The dip in patient volume at Quincy Medical Center is noticeable to employees like Gale Martell, a medical technologist who works in the hospital’s blood bank.

“It’s extremely noticeable,” said Martell, who has worked at the hospital for 37 years. “We saw a huge decrease in our inpatient population. We’ve even seen a decrease in our emergency room patients. We’re not getting the referrals that we once did.”

Quincy Medical Center received 626 admissions from Granite Medical Group from January 2012 to June 2012, and 389 from January 2013 to June 2013 — a 38 percent decrease, according to the union.

The union, which represents 350 to 400 Quincy Medical Center employees, recently launched a website called QuincyCares.org to tout the health services provided by Quincy Medical Center and to remind the public that patients have the right to choose Quincy over other hospitals.

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“The patients have a choice in their health care,” said Martell. “They don’t have to go where they’re steered.”

On Tuesday, Martell and other members of the union went to 500 Congress St. in Quincy to deliver a letter to Granite Medical Group, asking Granite officials to meet with the union to discuss the situation.

Martell said they also held signs and leafleted cars in the parking lot.

“We’ve worked with these doctors for years and years; we know all of them,” said Martell.

Martell said she is concerned that if Quincy Medical Center continues to lose patients, its future is in jeopardy.

“All of that health care money has been leaving Quincy,” she said. “We want this place to stay open.”

Calway said only Steward has the power to make the changes the union is seeking.

“We have had a longstanding relationship with Quincy Medical Center and some of our patients who live in Quincy continue to get their care there,” he said in an e-mail.

‘We saw a huge decrease in our inpatient population. We’ve even seen a decrease in our emergency room patients.’

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Quincy Medical Center is a part of the Steward Health Care System, a network of 11 community hospitals that includes Norwood Hospital and Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton.

Brooke Thurston, a spokeswoman for Steward, said that hospital officials are committed to providing top-notch health care to patients in Quincy.

She blamed the Quincy hospital’s situation on the Granite Medical Group’s affiliation with the Atrius Network, which she said “is the most expensive physicians group in the state.”

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.
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