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Dialogue continues on MIT Medical’s community care proposal

March 26, 2010

Since MIT Medical’s community care proposal was announced on March 3, care providers and administrators in MIT Medical have been listening and responding to feedback from members of the MIT community.

“The comments we’ve been getting have been very thought-provoking and valuable,” said William H. Kettyle, M.D., medical director at MIT Medical. “These questions and opinions will play an important part in shaping how we eventually implement our community care proposal.”

Kettyle and others from MIT Medical have met with groups including the housemasters, MIT-EMS (the ambulance service), and the Dormitory Council. Meetings are also planned with representatives from the Undergraduate Association, the Graduate Student Council, MedLinks, the Faculty Committee on Student Life, and deans from the Division of Student Life.

Several people at those meetings have expressed appreciation for the outreach, according to Maryanne Kirkbride, M.S./M.B.A., R.N., clinical director of campus life, and Kristine Ruzycki, A.N.P.-B.C., chief of nursing services and director of student health services. “One housemaster told me she was glad they weren’t being left out of the process,” Kirkbride said.

“The community care proposal is very much a work in progress,” Kettyle emphasized. “That means we won’t always have immediate answers to every question and concern that’s raised.” For example, Kettyle noted, MIT Medical is still working to answer questions about whether an after-hours student hospitalization, particularly in situations related to alcohol use, would result in a call to the student’s parents and/or a charge billed to the parents’ health insurance (for those students covered by their parents’ policies rather than the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan).

Some MIT Medical patients have expressed sadness about the possibility of closing the Inpatient Unit, which from time to time has accommodated retirees, employees and family members as well as students.

“We realize how much the MIT community values the Inpatient Unit, which in many ways is unique to MIT,” said Kettyle, noting that very few other colleges and universities today have inpatient facilities for patients other than students. Because of improvements in surgical techniques and community- and home-care services, the patient census in MIT Medical’s Inpatient Unit has been dropping steadily, Kettyle noted; in 2009, the 18-bed facility averaged just 2.4 overnight patients per day.

Kettyle also offered reassurance about aspects of after-hours care that would not change under the community care proposal:

  • MIT-EMS will continue to operate 24 hours a day.
  • Access to Mental Health clinicians remains unchanged; clinicians are available 24/7 for urgent matters
  • The number of late-night referrals to a hospital is not expected to rise significantly. Even under the current 24-hour Urgent Care system, after-hours patients with potentially serious problems are sent to a hospital, because MIT Medical’s X-ray and laboratory facilities are closed overnight. For true medical emergencies, Urgent Care has never been intended as an alternative to a hospital emergency room.

*This news story has not been updated since the date shown. Information contained in this story may be outdated. For current information about MIT Medical’s services, please see relevant areas of the MIT Medical website.