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Tufts Medical Center will close pediatric beds to boost adult capacity

Tufts Medical Center in Boston. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Tufts Medical Center in Boston. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

The more than 40 inpatient beds at Boston's Tufts Children's Hospital will be converted to much-needed ICU and medical/surgical beds for adults, the hospital's operator announced Thursday.

Wellforce Health System, which runs Tufts Medical Center and the children's hospital, said in a statement that pediatric patients will now be referred to Boston Children's Hospital, under a letter of intent to work together expected to become effective July 1, subject to regulatory approval.

The move is being made because as fewer children need hospitalization, and those who do need inpatient treatment require highly advanced care, the number of adult patients in need of highly specialized care has soared, so much so that Tufts turns away hundreds of patients per month, the statement said.

“Our medical center has never been stronger, but now patient needs are changing,” said Dr. Michael Tarnoff, President and CEO of Tufts Medical Center. “As we look toward the future, we must make this difficult but crucial decision."

Tufts' 40-bed neonatal intensive care unit will continue operating, as will its pediatric primary care services, the Center for Children with Special Needs, and New England Pediatric Care, a long-term care facility for children.

Tufts Children's Hospital traces its history to 1894 when it was established as Floating Hospital for Children on a ship in Boston Harbor. Even though it became an on-land facility in 1931, it continued to be known as Floating Hospital for Children until 2020.

Wellforce will work with the several hundred Tufts Children’s Hospital employees affected by the decision to close the pediatric beds find other jobs either within Wellforce or at Boston Children’s.

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