Statement on Baystate Franklin Mental Health Unit

Elect Sheila Gilmour Mayor of Greenfield, MA.

Statement on Baystate Franklin Mental Health Unit

I am deeply concerned about the future of mental health services in Greenfield. If Baystate closes the Mental Health Unit (MHU) at Baystate Franklin Medical Center (BFMC) it will be more difficult for patients in our community to access essential services. Not only will this harm patients themselves, this can exacerbate several interconnected problems that affect all of us in Greenfield. 

Many of our neighbors require care at the MHU for a number of reasons. And, unfortunately, a large proportion of them are in an exceptionally vulnerable state due to complicating factors including homelessness, substance abuse disorders, trauma, and many others. I’m worried that distance, low income, and a lack of reliable public transportation will prevent people from receiving the care they need. After all, beds in Holyoke are not a substitute for beds in Greenfield.

What will happen to our neighbors if they lose access to this kind of care? I am concerned that it will make it more difficult for people to find and maintain stable housing, resulting in prolonged or more frequent bouts of homelessness (which further complicates their ability to seek care). I am also concerned that patients who suffer from substance abuse disorders will be motivated to self-medicate if they don’t have access to quality care. 

At a time when Greenfield should be forming coalitions with our neighbors in the Pioneer Valley to address regional issues of homelessness, substance abuse, public transportation and more, it is disappointing to see essential services shrink at the whim of a private business. I urge Baystate to keep care local by maintaining the current level of service available at the MHU at BFMC while expanding access in Holyoke. This could strengthen our region by addressing the growing challenges of providing high quality mental health care to our family members, friends and neighbors. 

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