By: Jessica Bartlett
The state has given its backing to a proposed $1 billion expansion at Boston Children's Hospital, despite criticism from a health care watchdog that the project could close competing hospitals.
The Department of Public Health will still need to formally vote on the recommendation but the agency's recommendation is a good indication they will vote favorably, allowing the project to move forward
"Boston Children's Hospital is pleased to have earned the Department of Public Health's (DPH) staff recommendation in support of our Determination of Need application," said the hospital in a statement. "We appreciate and respect the thoroughness of DPH staff in reviewing this application and recognizing the benefit to patients and families. We agree with the conditions in principle but are still reviewing the precise language and may require clarification as to how the conditions will be implemented."
The project has received much criticism largely because it will build a new 11-story building over a beloved garden on the Longwood campus.
The recommendation comes days after the state's health care watchdog, The Health Policy Commission, raised concerns that the project could take a large number of patients from competing hospitals, threatening their viability, and could raise Heath care spending in the state.
"From the day we submitted our application, the health needs of the children we care for have been our focus," the hospital said. "We will continue to advocate for improved health care facilities, updated technology, increased access and expanded green space offered as part of our proposed expansion plan at next month’s Public Health Council meeting and look forward to earning their support as well."
At least one local group that was challenging the expansion plans said they were "disappointed."
"If approved, this mammoth project would increase the price of hospital care, reduce competition, and expose Massachusetts consumers and taxpayers to untold millions of dollars in additional heath care costs," said Greg McGregor, the attorney for the Friends of Prouty Garden and Ten Taxpayer Group. "It would also destroy a beautiful, unique therapeutic healing garden that has given give solace to generations of sick children and their families."