GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

July 30, 2013

Repairs lead to AGH temporary closures

Behavioral health services to resume in other areas

By Times Staff
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — A case of significant water damage confirmed last week has led Addison Gilbert officials to temporarily close down some services in its behavioral services facilities.

But AGH Vice President Cindy Cafasso Donaldson emphasized Monday that the shutdown is tied only to the need for structural repairs, and that the programs will be reopening between Wednesday and next Monday.

Donaldson said that the damage was identified in the ceiling above portions of the Weber Building — the 1958 building located at the far left when viewed from Washington Street — and that hospital officials then contacted structural engineers, who examined the site late last week and over the weekend.

As a result, AGH had to close down the counseling service that uses that floor — the former Health and Education Service program that has been renamed Lahey Behavioral Services under the mergers between Northeast Health Systems and the Lahey Clinic into AGH’s new parent corporation, Lahey Health, last year.

“The engineers recommended closing it for this week so we can do construction above the ceiling,” Donaldson said Monday in a phone interview. But, she emphasized, that program and services will reopen Monday, in other parts of the Addison Gilbert campus.

Similarly, the so-called Discover program and physical therapy programs were also closed Monday and will be today, but is expected to be up and operating again by Wednesday or Thursday, again, in a different part of the Addison Gilbert complex.

Donaldson said that therapists have been working to contact clients, and that no one who needs counseling or therapy will be denied access to it.

All of the programs will remain functioning at AGH once they reopen, and the water damage repairs go forward.

The damage and the needed repairs comes just 3 1/2 weeks after Lahey Health announced July 6 it had relinquished operation of four programs on the North Shore that help people deal with rape, HIV, AIDs, drug abuse and mental illness. Those programs, based in Beverly, Peabody and Lynn, were taken over by other agencies as of July 1 and will continue to provide services, Kevin Norton, CEO of Lahey Health Behavioral Services said at the time.

But officials noted then that none of the involved programs were based on Cape Ann, and Donaldson emphasized Monday that none of those changes or business plans have anything to do with the emergency closures of the AGH programs this week.

“Down the line, we have a need for strengthening our behavioral health services,” Donaldson said. “We see that in our community health needs assessment, and we are absolutely committed to maintaining behavioral services within the building.”

Donaldson said officials have not yet received cost estimates for the damage, or for the reconstruction work. The work also involves the Prentiss Building, which adjoins the Webber Building on the AGH campus off Washington Street.