State Hospitals – MA
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History of State Hospitals
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In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts endeavored to build several facilities which would serve as psychiatric hospitals and asylums. Many of these facilities became overcrowded, which sometimes resulted in the facilities opening satellite buildings to compensate for the overflow. During the 1960s, a movement against institutionalization began sweeping across the United States. A decreased appetite of governments to allocate state and federal funding, improvement in the effectiveness and availability of psychiatric drugs, and a general outlook that these facilities were frequently mistreating their patients all became factors that led to a steady decline in the presence of these hospitals nationwide. In Massachusetts, several such facilities existed over the last 130+ years, including the following notable hospitals:
Danvers State Hospital – built in 1874, closed in 1992
Grafton State Hospital – built in 1901, closed in 1973
Mattapan State Hospital – closed in 1979
Northampton State Hospital – built in 1856, closed in 1993
Tewskbury Hospital – built in 1852, closed in still open today
Westborough State Hospital – opened in 1886, closed in 2010
Worcester State Hospital – built in 1833, closed in 2012
The majority of these facilities are either mostly or completely demolished, and in most cases, condominiums were built in their place.
Asbestos Use at State Hospitals in Massachusetts
Asbestos in hospitals is commonly found in construction materials and facility support items, including boilers, plumbing and steam pipes, valves and pumps, ceiling and floor tiles, concrete, spackling and joint compound, electrical wiring and components, and more. Hospitals use boilers that produce steam for the building’s heat systems as well as heating water for washing laundry, operating the kitchen, and sterilizing lab equipment and surgical tools. Such boilers are centrally located and transmit steam throughout the hospital through a series of pipes, pumps, and valves. These parts and components were covered with asbestos insulation to minimize energy loss and protect workers from high heat. Valves, flanges, and pipe connections contained asbestos gaskets, while pumps were sealed with asbestos packing material.
Removing and replacing insulation on steam system components to perform repairs and building maintenance disturbed asbestos and released fibers into the air, that workers unknowingly inhaled and ingested, and/or got stuck to their clothing or skin. Maintenance workers, engineers, and custodial staff may have been exposed to asbestos from thermal system insulation. Medical personnel and even patients were also at risk of bystander asbestos exposure. Even when facilities make efforts to perform asbestos abatement to remove this material, there is potential for dangerous levels of exposure if not performed properly. In the case of these shutdown and previously abandoned facilities where demolition (rather than remediation) was the selected action, it is of great concern whether the companies who ultimately purchased the land took the necessary precautions to ensure that asbestos fibers were not released into the air en masse. If not, the exposure to asbestos would not have stopped with the patients and staff who used to be present daily in these facilities, but the danger would extend to those performing demolition and cleanup services decades later as well.
Our Top-Rated Asbestos Attorneys Represent State Hospital workers
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or another asbestos-related illness due to asbestos exposure at State Hospitals in Massachusetts, you need to speak with an experienced asbestos lawyer as soon as possible.
At Belluck & Fox, our nationally recognized mesothelioma attorneys have extensive experience fighting for families and workers exposed to asbestos. We are proud to have secured more than $1 billion in compensation for asbestos victims and their families.
We are ready to help you. Contact us today to set up a free consultation. A partner at our law firm will personally call you to talk about the details of your case and explain your legal options. Our law firm does not charge (any legal fees upfront and we do not get paid unless and until we secure compensation for you.