Joyce fights for Mass. Hospital School
Budget mandates that 120 beds must be maintained

The recently passed Massachusetts Senate budget contains language authored by Senator Brian A. Joyce that would require that the Massachusetts Hospital School (MHS) in Canton, which provides critical medical, rehabilitative, recreational and educational services to children with significant physical disabilities, remain open and maintain no fewer than 120 beds.
“The compassionate and critically needed services provided to some of our most physically challenged children and young adults at the MA Hospital School are among the most important services provided by state government, and we cannot shirk our collective responsibilities,” said Senator Joyce.
A recent information session held by the Department of Public Health highlighted the cost-effective ways in which the four public health hospitals deliver services. DPH estimates that an increase to 120 beds from 75 would cost the state $3.2 million, while resulting in a return of $4.8 million in federal reimbursement dollars – a surplus of $1.6 million for the state’s General Fund. In addition, MHS provides services at no direct cost to families or sending communities, which eliminates the large burden on local school districts and families that is often associated with private hospital placement.
In the last year, a series of funding cuts has resulted in the closing of one unit at MHS, and for the first time in its long history, the school has had to create a wait list for admissions. Currently, MHS maintains 75 beds, although they have the capacity to assist up to 150 in-patients with no expansion of their current education or hospital settings. The House budget includes language that would save MHS from closure by requiring that 75 beds be maintained.
"We thank the Senate for the inclusion of funding and language for 120 in-patient beds at Massachusetts Hospital School. With 75 children on our waiting list, this will significantly help the families in meeting the needs of their medically fragile children,” said Thomas F. Norton, Chairman of the MHS Board of Trustees.
Joyce is hopeful that the budget conference committee will look favorably on the 120-bed proposal when members of the Senate and House begin work on a final compromise version of the FY 2011 budget. The 2011 fiscal year begins on July 1.