There’s been a certain degree of concern among Lynn residents over North Shore Medical Center’s (NSMC) plan to close Union Hospital on Lynnfield Street and replace the more traditional medical facility with a $23 million ‘medical village.’
At Tuesday’s City Council hearing the Council voted in favor of changing zoning to establish a Medical Village Overlay District on all of the land lying between and bounded by Lynnfield St., Dartmouth St., Anchor Road and Woodland North. The vote would pave the for NSMC to close the 20-acre Union Hospital campus and replace it a five to six-acre medical village. NSMC needed a zoning change because the neighborhood is currently zoned to allow only residential single-families and a ‘Hospital”. The zoning change to allow for a hospital was done back in the 1950s through a special permit so Union Hospital could be constructed. Because the medical village is not technically a hospital special zoning was again needed.
At Tuesday’s meeting, NSMC’s Senior Vice President Mary Jo Gagnon testified that the new facility would house urgent care, lab services, outpatient services, radiology services as well as primary and specialty care physicians. To quell the fears of some residents that the loss of Union Hospital would be detrimental to the health and well being of patients here, Gagnon pointed out that most people currently visiting Union Hospital will have the same level of services.
“When people think of a hospital they think emergency rooms and inpatient services,” said Gagnon. “However, a majority of the visits are outpatient services and primary care visits and most emergency care can be done in an urgent care facility.”
Gagnon said some may point out that if they have a heart attack they won’t have a hospital in the city to go to in order to receive care. However, Gagnon said currently heart attack patents and some others are already being sent to NSMC’s Salem campus because that facility is better equipped to deal with those types of emergencies. Gagnon insisted for the average Union Hospital patient not much will change by changing the facility from a traditional hospital into a medical village.
Ward One City Councilor Wayne Lozzi said he was in favor of the zoning change as the as only alternative to the closing of Union Hospital.
“My preference would like to see the hospital stay, but it’s not happening,” said Lozzi. “They are proposing to build a facility that will provide needed and modern medical services and state of the art medical services. I hope that we will move forward on this.”
City Council President Darren Cyr also said that he doesn’t want to see the hospital go, but the reality is Union Hospital is going to close.
“We are trying to work something out that is in the best interest of City of Lynn and the residents that live up there,” he said.