Prouty Garden Supporters Ask Court to Halt Imminent Closing Of Garden
Hearing on Injunction Scheduled for Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court
Boston Children Hospital Seeks Destruction of Therapeutic Healing Garden as Part of $1 Billion Expansion
BOSTON (Nov. 18, 2016) -- Supporters of the Prouty Garden today filed for an immediate injunction to halt the closing and destruction of the Garden, as Boston Children’s Hospital threatens to move ahead with its massive $1 billion expansion project. The controversial expansion received approval from the state’s Public Health Council (PHC) on October 20.
The injunction request will be heard Wednesday, November 23, at 11 am in Suffolk Superior Court Room 817.
In the lawsuit, Garden supporters sued the Hospital, the Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health.
The suit was filed as the Hospital has indicated it plans to close the Garden within days.
The lawsuit, the culmination of 10 months of furious opposition to the massive expansion, asserts that the Hospital failed to satisfy the required factors for approval of the Determination of Need (DoN) by failing to submit information about alternatives, cost impact and market impact. The hospital failed to demonstrate that the expansion is needed to serve Massachusetts patients, a fact acknowledged by the DPH.
Large hospital construction projects in Massachusetts require state approval, and there is a DPH review process that is supposed to examine issues of cost impacts, competition within the market, and the feasibility of alternatives.
The appeal asks that EOHHS appoint members of the Health Facilities Appeals Board, which is currently not filled, to hear an appeal of the DoN approval. The HFAB has no members and “is not currently constituted,” according to a letter from the DPH announcing the DoN approval. Filing an appeal to the HFAB automatically stays the DoN, according to state law.
If the HFAB is not filled, then the suit asks the Superior Court to rule on the DoN decision.
“The state’s review of this project was so badly flawed that it needs to be scrapped entirely,” said Gus Murby, spokesman for the Ten Taxpayer Group (TTG) that filed the appeal and has standing to intervene in the DoN process. “The Hospital did not meet any of the conditions legally required for approval. Now the hospital wants to close off the Garden in an attempt to accomplish on the ground what it was unable to objectively justify in the DoN process. Should this attempt be allowed to succeed, the irreversible damage to the Prouty Garden will harm patients and will do lasting damage to the very heart of the hospital itself. Even if the hospital’s proposed course of action were the proper course, which we do not believe it is, this underhanded scheme to move ahead is not the way to do it.”
The Hospital’s superficial and defective application is consistent with its unflinchingly obstinate disregard for the thousands of Prouty Garden supporters, including patients, family members and clinical staff, as well as leading experts in multiple fields, who have all testified to the critical value this world-class therapeutic healing garden provides in the midst of a hospital setting that weighs heavily on the most profoundly ill patients and their families, as well as the hospital staff who care for them,” Murby said.
Greg McGregor, attorney for the TTG, said: “The state’s review of the Determination of Need application is factually inadequate, biased and concludes, unequivocally, that the hospital expansion is not needed to serve Massachusetts patients.
"We asked Hospital representatives if they would hold off on closing Prouty Garden and maintain the status quo, but they refused, so we need to ask the court to step in and freeze the status quo until a fair and impartial hearing on the dispute can be held in court,” McGregor said.
Earlier this year, supporters of Prouty Garden had filed suit in Suffolk Superior Court to stop the hospital from conducting pre-construction work. That suit is still pending.
Photo credit: Deana Tavares