Cambridge Health Alliance to shutter senior health center in December

Jillian Fennimore

 Facing mounting losses, Cambridge Health Alliance announced Monday it would cut services at the Oliver Farnum Senior Health Center later this year.

Over the next three months, the health alliance, the Harvard-affiliated operator of three area hospitals and a variety of clinics — will be transferring patients to their other CHA clinics.

The health center at 806 Mass. Ave. will no longer be operational as of Dec. 24, according to a press release.

Richard Fernandez, vice president of the health alliance’s ambulatory operations and primary care services said the move was made because of a decrease in the center’s use.

The center employees seven people who support three part-time doctors providing care to 1,800 patients. Among the services offered, according to the CHA Web site, are primary health, geriatric mental health services, podiatry, behavioral medicine and nutrition services. According to the CHA, weekly visits from patients gone down to 100 or fewer and in the last fiscal year there were 4,700 patient visits.

Despite attempts to stem the deficit, Dennis Keefe, CEO of the Cambridge Health Alliance, said last month that the current fiscal year might see a net loss of $22.4 million, which breaks down to an estimated year-end deficit of $9 million plus the $13 million add-on for health benefits.

CHA is also in jeopardy of losing an additional $40 million that had been promised from the state this year.

Bailey said CHA has already instituted a hiring freeze earlier this year, severely cut employee spending such as travel and overtime, and is halfway through laying off roughly 300 workers — 9 percent of the organization’s staff.

Bailey said despite losing its medical services, there are future plans for the city-owned space, including an expansion of administrative functions and services.

CHA said they will provide assistance to patients in selecting new sites or primary care physicians, along with providing shuttle services to the hospital.

CHA is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, and has three hospitals and 21 clinics based in Cambridge, Somerville and Boston’s metro-north region.

Cambridge’s finances are closely connected with the Cambridge Health Alliance. In addition to the $6 million the city gives to the agency to pay for medical services and the city’s public health department, all employees at Cambridge Hospital and the eight local community clinics are eligible for the city’s pension system.