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State health inspections backlogged months as department pleads for money

“I thought they sincerely and genuinely understood what was going on,” said Dr. Lauren Smith in regard to lobbying legislators for more funding.
“I thought they sincerely and genuinely understood what was going on,” said Dr. Lauren Smith in regard to lobbying legislators for more funding.Leslie E. Kossoff for the Boston Globe

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The Massachusetts health department, reeling from years of budget cuts, has fallen significantly behind on investigating consumer complaints about medical facilities and lacks sufficient staff to conduct safety inspections of everything from summer camps to food manufacturers to migrant farm workers’ housing.

There’s a wait of more than five months for investigating problems reported in Massachusetts hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis centers, and clinics. Meanwhile, medical and biologic waste from roughly 600 biotechnology firms is not being routinely monitored to ensure it is disposed properly.

Inspectors will be needed to ensure children will have Coast Guard-approved life jackets in camps this summer, as required by state law.

These gaps, detailed in a Department of Public Health budget memo obtained by the Globe, surfaced as agency leaders pleaded with lawmakers for more money.

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