, Newburyport, MA

Local News

August 6, 2013

Spilled coffee, uncleaned room leads to ban on AA meetings at hospital

NEWBURYPORT — After almost a decade of hosting Alcoholic Anonymous meetings inside its Higgins Conference Room, Anna Jaques Hospital’s president confirmed yesterday a hospital official informed AA members they are no longer welcome.

In response, an AA member called the news discouraging but said there were enough meeting taking place in other locations across the city to make up for the loss of the hospital.

Anna Jaques Hospital President Delia O’Connor said AA officials have until Oct. 1 to find a new home for the two programs it hosts Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings.

Leaders of both sessions were informed last weekend via a note taped to the front door before the start of both weekend meetings.

O’Connor said the conference room is the only semi-formal space in the building and that it is in heavy use by doctors, administrators and other hospital groups. Too often, she said, those using the space Monday morning would find it in disarray, specifically pointing to coffee stains found throughout the conference room.

“It’s a really terrible match with our only semi-formal space,” O’Connor said.

Clean-up crews, she said, aren’t scheduled to tidy up the boardroom over the weekend and that to hire a work crew to make sure the room is ready for hospital officials on Monday would be cost-prohibitive.

“It’s just not feasible for us in terms of staffing or money,” O’Connor said, adding that AA has been using the room free of charge for years.

Founded in 1935, AA currently has more than 2 million members in the United States, Canada and other countries.

The informal groups have only one mission: to help people who want to stop drinking and support those recovering from alcoholism.

As far back as March, O’Connor said AA members were made aware of the hospital’s concern regarding the state of its meeting room, but conditions had not improved.

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