State plans to shut child psychiatric unit at Westwood Lodge

The state Department of Mental Health plans to shut down a psychiatric unit for children at Westwood Lodge hospital because of safety problems discovered there this week, an official said.

During a surprise inspection Tuesday, the agency found “a number of significant issues,’’ and it closed the unit to new admissions and notified the hospital that it plans to suspend the unit’s license, agency spokeswoman Daniela Trammell said in a written statement to the Globe.

“Westwood Lodge has begun the safe transfer of patients and is being monitored by DMH,’’ she said.

The hospital is owned by Arbour Health System, a for-profit company that is part of the largest psychiatric provider in the country, Universal Health Services. Arbour officials could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.


Regulators have found repeated safety problems and instances of poor treatment at the Arbour hospitals in Massachusetts, including lack of staff, improperly trained staff, lack of proper monitoring of patients, and filthy rooms.

Shutting down the children’s unit puts further strain on a mental health system where it is already difficult to find spots for mentally ill children.

Westwood Lodge is licensed for 12 children’s inpatient beds, and nine children were on the unit as of Wednesday, the mental health agency said.

The hospital must notify parents and guardians, accrediting organizations, and public and commercial payers of the pending license suspension. It must also safely discharge or transfer current patients into clinically appropriate placements, the agency said.

Westwood Lodge can apply to reinstate the license once all deficiencies are corrected and a licensing survey has been satisfactorily completed.

Liz Kowalczyk can be reached at kowalczyk@globe.com.