Seth Frattasio of Hanover stood in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Old South Union Church on Wednesday afternoon as he held back tears when telling the story of how the South Shore Hospital saved his wife’s life.
Frattasio said he felt support from the hospital staff while his wife, Elizabeth, suffered a coma for 45 straight days and said without them, his wife would not be alive.
“We advocate at every chance we get for the hospital,” Frattasio said.
The Hanover native was one of many patients who joined local residents, hospital staff members and politicians who praised the South Shore Hospital and supported their proposed merger with the Boston-based hospital chain Partners HealthCare, Inc at Wednesday’s public hearing, organized by the Department of Public Health.
Doctors, nurses and patients who spoke at the forum said the merger would expand community based specialty care services, increase the availability of preventive and primary care and bring more advanced technology while keeping it a community hospital.
“I cannot see where this merger could change the community here,” said Weymouth resident Chuck Zonerman, who volunteers at the hospital. “ It can do nothing but enhance the care.”
Dr. Gary Gottlieb, President and CEO of Partners HealthCare said the merger would provide a better and more organized patient experience with improved outcomes.
“This acquisition will improve the availability and accessibility of service locally, enhance clinical offerings and yield efficiencies, all of which will, in turn result in the delivery of high quality, cost effective health care to the South Shore, thus achieving the changes mandated by health reform,” Gottlieb said.
Peter Forman, president of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce and Laura DiBona of the Columbian Square Business Association said the merger was a huge asset to the business community.
Weymouth Rep. Jamie Murphy called the merger a “necessary change,” and Rep. Geoff Diehl, R-Whitman, who represents East Weymouth, and Scituate and Marshfield Rep. James Cantwell also supported the proposed merger.
But not everyone echoed their views. Some local politicians remained undecided.
Weymouth Councilor Michael Smart questioned whether the merger would lead to layoffs and said he still wants to hear more from Partners before he submits written comments to the Department of Public Health by the March 18 deadline. Smart also said Mayor Sue Kay will submit written comments once she listens to the hearing. She was unable to attend Wednesday’s forum.
Weymouth Councilor Robert Conlon was upset about the timing of the public meeting and said it was inappropriate to hold it at 2 p.m. when most residents were working.
Celia Wcislo, vice president for the Massachusetts division of Local 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, worried that the merger could affect workers’ wages and benefits.
Partners was founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Residents are asked to submit written comments about the merger to by the Department of Public Health by March 18.