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Baystate Health Plans To Close Ware Outpatient Center By 2023

Mary Lane Outpatient Center
Baystate Health

  Much to the consternation of local officials, a rural healthcare center east of Springfield, Massachusetts is facing closure.

    Baystate Health, the large western Massachusetts health system, plans to phase out the Mary Lane Outpatient Center in Ware over the next two years and shift its services to Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer.

  "The overarching vision here is to provide a robust, comprehensive, and contemporary site for delivering health care services for the roughly 100,000 people in the ( Quaboag region) towns in a way that is sustainable well into the future," said Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health.

He  said a “clear eyed” examination of Mary Lane found people are not using it in sufficient numbers, and it’s hard to recruit doctors to work there.  He acknowledged there is an emotional attachment to the hospital that has been part of the community since 1909.

  "In spit of the strong feelings people may have about Mary Lane, we are simply not seeing people go there when they are sick," said Keroack.

    Baystate acquired Wing in 2014 and merged it with Mary Lane two years later.   The hospitals are less than 10 miles apart.

    After Mary Lane was closed as an acute care hospital five years ago, Baystate tried several things to build up its outpatient business there, according to Molly Gray, the chief administrator of Baystate Health Eastern Region.  These included a 3D mammography unit and a severe wound care facility.

   "I do feel that is a good faith effort over time to try to grow something that would be useful to the community there and it didn't play out that way," said Gray.

   Local officials used words like “horrible” and “extremely disappointing” when reacting to the news.

  State Representative Todd Smola, a Republican from Warren, said Baystate’s decision to close Mary Lane came out of the blue, with local and state officials being told only a  short time before the public announcement.

"It is upsetting and extremely disappoing in an otherwise very good relationship with Baystate," said Smola. " I think they really dropped the ball on this one."

  Smola said Baystate never gave local officials a chance to brainstorm how Mary Lane might remain open.

"They (Baystate) seem to be acting like it is a fait accompli, a done deal, etched in stone and they are just going to go through the motions of contacting DPH and filing the paperwork they need," said Smola.

  Baystate’s plans require approval from the state Department of Public Health.  There will be public hearings.  Baystate plans to host a virtual town hall on February 3rd.

  In a video conference with reporters, Keroack floated the possibility that Baystate might offer to demolish the Mary Lane building and turn the 21-acre property over to the town.

"I think if ( the town) can't come up with any good uses for it and  would like us to simply gift them the land as green space, we will do that," said Keroack.

The 80 employees at Mary Lane will likely be offered jobs elsewhere in the Baystate system, according to Gray.

  Baystate’s other community hospitals – Baystate Franklin in Greenfield and Baystate Noble in Westfield – are doing fine, according to Keroack.  

   He said plans are moving forward to build a brand new behavioral health hospital on the site of a former nursing home in Holyoke.




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