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The end of the Floating Hospital for Children: Tufts to shut pediatric unit, refer sick young patients to Children's Hospital

Tufts Medical Center announced today it's shutting down its 41 in-patient beds for children to create new space for "critically ill adults" - although it said it will keep its neonatal ICU and several primary-care programs for kids and teens open.

Through its holding company, Wellforce Health System, the hospital says it has a deal with Boston Children's Hospital in the Longwood Medical Area to take over care for the sick kids who would otherwise have gone to the former Floating Hospital in Chinatown:

The collaboration comes at a time when the Boston-area health care market is rapidly changing. The number of adult patients in need of highly specialized medical care at Tufts Medical Center has risen dramatically – so much so that the hospital is forced to turn away hundreds of patients each month. At the same time, projections suggest fewer children will need hospitalization and those who do need inpatient treatment will have more serious health issues than ever before, requiring advanced, highly focused systems of care. Through this collaboration, pediatric patients who require acute or specialty care will be sent to BCH, where they will continue to have world-class clinicians and care teams.

The changeover will occur July 1 if state regulators approve.

In addition to the 40-patient NICU, Tufts said it will also keep several programs aimed at children and teens:

Tufts MC will also continue its pediatric primary care services, including the Pediatric and Adolescent Asian Clinic, an important resource for Chinatown residents. The Center for Children with Special Needs and New England Pediatric Care, a long term care facility for children, will also remain.

The collaboration with Children's could eventually mean joint non-in-patient pediatrics programs, the hospital said:

Talks are also underway between Tufts Medical Center and Boston Children’s to plan for collaborating in the delivery of pediatric ambulatory specialty services, including satellite physician services, and how to best support Wellforce’s pediatric community hospital network and its thriving network of pediatricians who effectively coordinate care for approximately 70,000 pediatric patients across the region.

Tufts adds one thing won't change: "The teddy bear will stay where it is," spokesman Jeremy Lechan said this morning.

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Comments

Here's a story that WBUR did on the history of the Floating Hospital for Children. It has some nice photos.

https://www.wbur.org/radioboston/2014/10/01/boston-floating-kulig

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Voting closed 14

How will this affect the ERs? Children's often has a wait of many hours. I assume children won't be brought to Tufts' ER if there are no inpatient beds for them, so this means overloading Children's even more.

And are there any insurance plans where Tufts is in-network and Children's isn't?

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Voting closed 12

The ER will continue to see peds and will send them to Children's if admitted.

Which, yes, is already overloaded, and has a lot of issues with not wanting to collaborate with non-Children's providers, because providers at Children's know everything.

It's really unfortunate.

Children's is in network with a lot more insurers actually. I don't believe there are any that aren't. There are some large ones that aren't in network with Tufts. (Like, the Tufts connector plan, amusingly.)

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Voting closed 9

I never knew that the old FAO Schwarz teddy bear moved to Tufts. Glad he has a stable home.

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Voting closed 15

If you take your kid there, just hope they never saw that movie.

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Voting closed 6

.

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Voting closed 16

Here's a thought...maybe we shouldn't have a health care system that's based on how much money medical providers and its vast administrative support system can make?

Maybe, as a community, we can afford to support a hospital that by all accounts has been wildly successful at helping sick children?

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Voting closed 11

I am curious what protesting a closing program does? It's not like the parents can take their business away from the hospital?

It sounds like they are making a financial decision. I have been seeing a lot of ads over the past several years for childrens services at these different hospitals and they seemed to be directly competing for the clients. Maybe they just realized that to keep up it was going to require a huge investment even as client numbers may go down. It seems to make sense to hand it off to Children's who may then make a choice to expand.

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Voting closed 6