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This month’s meeting of the Public Health Council featured discussions on a wide range of topics, including three Determination of Need (DoN) requests from area health care facilities; a series of proposed amendments to existing public health regulations; and an update for the Council on seasonal influenza in Massachusetts.

The Public Health Council receives an update on flu season from BID staff.

The Public Health Council receives an update on flu season from DPH staff.

First, the Council took up a DoN request from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston which would replace its 46-bed Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and add a 20-bed Level II Special Care Nursery to the hospital campus. Following a discussion, the Council voted to approve the request.

The Council then took into consideration two DoN requests from Reliant Rehabilitation Hospital in Woburn. The first request would transfer ownership of New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Woburn, along with its two satellite units in Danvers and Lowell, to Reliant. The second request would transfer ownership of Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital along with its one inpatient satellite unit and eight outpatient satellite facilities to Reliant. Following a discussion, the Council voted to approve both requests.

Following the Determination of Need requests, DPH Deputy General Counsel Carol Balulescue high-profile external meetings at which press or legislators may be in attendance (especially those held at the State House), all public hearings and any bureau-sponsored conferences. presented to the Council about the Department’s intention to rescind a subset of regulations related to Requests and Consent for Anatomical Donations in the Commonwealth. These particular regulations are no longer necessary as the Massachusetts Legislature in 2012 rescinded the statutory authority that provided for them.

In a similar matter, DPH Bureau of Infectious Disease Director Kevin Cranston and other BID staff presented to the Council about the Department’s intention to rescind certain regulations related to the requirement for serological tests for syphilis and rubella prior to the issuance of a premarital medical certificate. These particular regulations are no longer needed since the Legislature repealed the statutory authority behind those requirements.

The Council then heard an update from BID Director Cranston on proposed amendments to regulations governing Reportable Diseases, Surveillance, and Isolation and Quarantine in the Commonwealth. These proposed amendments would update the regulations to bring them in line with national recommendations which have been revised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Department has recently completed its public hearing process for the amendments, and today recommended that the Council vote to approve them. Following a discussion, the Council concurred.

Finally, the Council heard an informational presentation on the outlook for seasonal influenza in Massachusetts this year and efforts to promote flu vaccination across the state.

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