Prouty Garden Fight Gets Even More Tangled

Children’s Hospital, already engaged in an increasingly public skirmish with advocates fighting to save the medical facility’s Prouty Garden, now faces an even bigger and potentially more damaging battle. From Page One of today’s Boston Globe.

‘I’m very angry,’ teen says of ordeal

Pelletiers sue Children’s Hospital, cite misdeeds

 

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Nearly two years after she returned home in the arms of her father, Justina Pelletier was back in the spotlight Thursday, speaking in a small, slightly shaky voice about the 16 months she spent in state custody, much of it in a locked psychiatric ward.

Justina, whose case drew national attention to the power of medical professionals to override parental rights, said she remains outraged that she was placed in state custody in 2013 after Boston Children’s Hospital accused her parents of interfering with her care.

The 17-year-old Connecticut girl clutched a purple stress ball, fingernails painted turquoise, as she spoke from a wheelchair in front of the State House, where her parents had convened a press conference to discuss the lawsuit they recently filed against Children’s Hospital.

 

Boston Herald columnist Joe Fitzgerald frames it as a jump ball:

[W]hat we’re seeing in the heart-wrenching case of Justina Pelletier is a drama that defies easy answers, a high-stakes confrontation in which what we do not know is infinitely more important than what we do know.

 

There’ll be plenty of headlines to make Children’s officials cringe as this case plays out. Meanwhile, the hits just keep on coming in the Prouty Garden rumpus.

Yesterday there was this front-page piece in the Business section.

Amid backlash, hospital defends expansion plan

When Dr. Sitaram Emani, a cardiac surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, heard about the baby from Springfield with the failing heart, he knew he could help.

But Emani quickly realized there was no room for the boy at the overcrowded hospital. Under sedation, the boy Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 1.21.18 AMwaited for weeks until Emani could fix the holes in his heart.

It’s a story that doctors and executives at Children’s, the region’s dominant pediatric care center, tell again and again: They don’t have enough beds, surgeries are being delayed, patients are being turned away and sent to other hospitals. And it’s why executives say they need to complete a $1 billion expansion of their Longwood Medical Area campus, a project that would create an 11-story tower with more room for doctors and nurses to treat more patients.

 

Except for those pesky Prouty people.

Yet the hospital’s message has been undercut recently by a group opposed to the proposal for reasons that have nothing to do with surgeries or beds. They object to the plan to build the tower over the Prouty Garden, a tranquil refuge for countless sick and dying children and their families. And many have emotional stories to tell.

 

But it’s the hospital’s story that’s mostly told in the Globe piece, which includes this:

 

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Advantage: Children’s.

Then there’s the paid portion of the $tately local broadsheet’s edition yesterday: this full-page ad on A12.

 

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(To be sure graf goes here.)

To be sure, there’s no reason to say that the Globe’s financial interest play into the paper’s coverage. It’s just that they sometimes do seem intertwined.

Regardless, the Prouty dustup is back in the Globe headlines today with this front-page Business piece.

Opponents lobby to keep Prouty

Opponents of Boston Children’s Hospital’s proposed $1.5 billion expansion asked the hospital to disclose all the alternative locations it considered before settling on a plan to build an 11-story tower on the site of the beloved Prouty Garden.Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 1.46.00 PM

They asked state public health officials to deny Children’s application, arguing that hospital executives have not met the state requirements for proving cost effectiveness, particularly regarding poorer patients.

The expansion project, which would add a pediatric heart center, neonatal intensive care unit, and private rooms, has attracted opposition from some patients’ families and doctors, including renowned pediatrician Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, who say that the half-acre garden has served as an oasis for families struggling with serious illness.

 

Maybe even the Pelletiers, eh?

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