Norwood Hospital flood strains ambulance services one year later

NORWOOD, Mass. — Norwood Hospital remains closed one year after a devastating flood and paramedics are forced to transport patients thousands of extra miles during medical emergencies, Norwood Fire Department data shows.

Emergency responders made more than 2,300 trips to hospitals in Boston, Brockton, Needham and Newton, according to a list of ambulance runs between June 2020 and June 2021. Some of the hospitals on the list are more than 10 miles from Norwood.

“We didn’t realize how good we really had it until [the hospital] was gone,” said Norwood Firefighters Local 1631 President Paul Ronco. “The transport times and the turnaround times have almost doubled and tripled.”

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Norwood Hospital, part of Steward Health Care, closed June 28 after flash floods from severe storms inundated parts of the facility causing widespread damage.

It’s unclear when the hospital could reopen but Steward said it will rebuild.

“Steward continues to work toward plans to rebuild Norwood Hospital and we are looking forward to sharing those details with the community in the coming weeks,” a company spokesperson said in an email.

Since the flood, Norwood crews made 1,709 runs to Beth Israel Deaconess in Needham, 282 trips to Good Samaritan in Brockton, and 212 runs to Newton-Wellesley. Those facilities are nine, 13 and 17 miles from Norwood Hospital, respectively.

Ronco said those extra miles not only put a strain on Norwood paramedics and EMTS, but nearby towns like Walpole and Westwood.

“The problem with all these delays in turnaround times, we are relying heavily on our neighboring towns to come in and fill-in with their ambulances. Just last week, I think we had seven out of town ambulances in on the same day,” Ronco said.

“In my opinion, I don’t think this is sustainable the way we’re running right now.” Ronco said.

Norwood residents are also wondering when their hospital is coming back.

“I’m 83 years old,” Ed DiMartino said. “In the back of my mind I’m thinking, ‘What happens if I need an emergency? Where do I go?’”

“You need a hospital nearby. It’s difficult to have had it all these years and then all of a sudden have it taken away from you,” DiMartino said.

The Town of Norwood’s general manager did not respond to a request for comment.

NORWOOD FIRE DEPT. AMBULANCE RUNS: June, 2020- June, 2021*

BWH-Faulkner Hospital 98

Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham 1,709

Beth Israel Deaconess Med. Center/West 52

Boston Medflight 1

Boston Medical Center 11

Brigham & Women’s Hospital 64

Children’s Hospital Boston 27

Faulkner Hospital Corp. 7

Good Samaritan Medical Center 282

Mass General Hospital 10

Milford Regional Medical Center 1

Milton Hospital Inc. 13

Mount Auburn Hospital 1

Newton-Wellesley Hospital 212

Shriners Hospital For Children-Boston 1

Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital 1

South Shore Hospital 2

St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center 7

Sturdy Memorial Hospital 5

Tufts Medical Center 6

VA Boston Healthcare Brockton 1

VA Boston Healthcare System 4

VA Boston Healthcare System- Parkway 33

TOTAL 2,589

*June 2021 data is incomplete

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