MiraVista Behavioral Health Center’s closure of 57 beds for substance use treatment services will have “a terrible impact on the community,” one expert said.
By Dusty Christensen
HOLYOKE — The for-profit MiraVista Behavioral Health Center is planning to close its inpatient addiction services this summer, shrinking the number of detox and recovery beds in a region that advocates say is already severely lacking those life-saving services.
In an internal email to staff last week, obtained by The Shoestring, the hospital’s leadership said they will be closing its acute treatment services, which is the facility’s detox unit, as well as clinical stabilization services. The decision means a loss of 57 beds for substance use treatment services in western Massachusetts, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.
A MiraVista spokesperson declined to make hospital leadership available for an interview on Thursday. In a statement to The Shoestring, the hospital said that the two programs will close in mid-July.
“The reality of inadequate state reimbursement, which falls millions of dollars short of the costs required to operate and sustain programming, has resulted in the decision to discontinue these programs,” the statement reads.
MiraVista Behavioral Health Center was previously known as Providence Behavioral Health Hospital when it was run by the nonprofit health care giant Trinity Health. But in 2021, Trinity sold the hospital to the for-profit Health Partners New England, which has since changed its name to TaraVista Health Partners. The company is owned and operated by CEO Michael Krupa, according to corporate filings.
The loss of those 57 beds is “absolutely awful” for western Massachusetts, according to Liz Whynott, the director of harm reduction at the community health care organization Tapestry.
“Losing this is just going to have a terrible impact on the community,” Whynott said. “It increases the chances for overdoses and deaths … People are at really high risk of overdosing when waiting for a bed.”
Whynott said that even with the MiraVista beds, it can take days or even a week for people to find a bed for addiction services in the region. There have never been enough inpatient beds in the region, she said, describing them as a “helpful and important” resource for people.
“When someone is ready to go into a detox, that means that if you don’t meet that need, there’s no choice but to continue to use,” she said. “It puts people in a very vulnerable state and increases their chances of overdose and other health concerns.”
It is particularly alarming, Whynott said, that those beds are located in Hampden County, where a larger concentration of people of color live in western Massachusetts and which has seen higher rates of overdoses. She said that the organization Behavioral Health Network has acute treatment services at Carlson Recovery Center in Springfield and also a detox unit in Greenfield.
But losing MiraVista’s beds significantly slashes the services available in the area — a decision Whynott called “inhumane” considering the “unprecedented levels of overdose deaths” the state and country are currently experiencing.
“The consequences from this are just going to be awful for western Mass and for Hampden County,” she said.
A MiraVista worker, whose identity The Shoestring is withholding because of concerns they would be disciplined for speaking out, said that those without access to beds may wind up incarcerated, in already limited psychiatric units or worse.
“They’re going to suffer and some of them will die,” they said.
In its statement, MiraVista said it will also continue to offer outpatient behavioral programs, including recovery services addressing substance use.
“We look forward to working with the Commonwealth in creating an effective continuum of services to best meet the evolving needs of our community,” the statement said.
In a statement issued Wednesday, a state Department of Public Health said DPH officials had met with MiraVista about its intention to close acute treatment and clinical stabilization services, but that DPH hadn’t yet been officially notified of the planned closures.
“MiraVista is required to notify the Department in writing and complete a closure application for each license … within 90 days of a planned closure,” the DPH spokesperson said.
Dusty Christensen is an independent investigative reporter based in western Massachusetts. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @dustyc123. Image: Google Maps.
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