NSMC Announces Improved Plan for Better Care and Healthier Communities:But Union Hospital in Lynn Is Slated for Closure

North Shore Medical Center (NSMC) and Partners HealthCare announced today a revised restructuring plan that improves care and coordination across a wide spectrum of health services. This plan realigns practices and facilities to make high-quality care more effective and efficient and improves access to the community-based care that North Shore residents use most. It builds on a similar plan announced two years ago that was revised in light of Spaulding Hospital North Shore’s decision to close later this year.

Key elements of the plan include:

  • Consolidating NSMC hospital-based medical, surgical and behavioral health services on one campus at Salem Hospital and expanding and improving that facility to serve the needs of the North Shore region. All inpatient services currently based at NSMC’s Union Hospital Campus will be consolidated at Salem Hospital over the course of the next three years.
  • Converting the current Spaulding Hospital North Shore, located on the campus of NSMC Salem Hospital, to a 100+-bed Center of Excellence in Behavioral Health that will be directly aligned with Massachusetts General Hospital and add 40-50 new beds to the region for psychiatry and behavioral health services. Spaulding’s decision to close its long-term care facility presents NSMC with new opportunities for configuring its care facilities.
  • Expanding community-based outpatient primary, specialty, urgent care and behavioral health services throughout the North Shore at North Shore Physicians Group (NSPG) offices, and in collaboration with the Lynn Community Health Center and North Shore Community Health Center.

The robust NSPG practice currently on the Union Campus will remain in Lynn and will give residents and Union neighbors access to expanded outpatient primary, specialty and behavioral health services. NSMC remains fully committed to providing emergency care to its communities in Lynn, Salem and throughout the region. In addition to the expanded Emergency Department in Salem, NSMC will continue to operate the current Emergency Department on the Union Campus over the transition of the next several years and will work with the city and community to ensure a long-term approach that is inclusive and meets their needs.

According to NSMC President Robert G. Norton, “We are confident that this plan succeeds in delivering the highest quality care to our patients in a comprehensive and thoughtful way. In the new heath care environment, this plan will help us better coordinate care, improve quality and more effectively contribute to the overall health of our communities.”

Support for the plan was echoed by NSMC’s trustees. “As members of this community, we have a special commitment to ensuring that NSMC delivers care of the highest quality and value,” said Richard Holbrook, Chairman and CEO of Eastern Bank and Chairman of the NSMC Board of Trustees. “We are investing more than $200 million in our communities because we believe this is the best plan for the patients and families of the North Shore.”

Meeting a critical need

Plans also focus on expanding services to help meet the overwhelming demand for addiction treatment, a priority shared by Governor Baker and communities across Massachusetts. The Center of Excellence in Behavioral Health will integrate addiction treatment with inpatient and outpatient psychiatry, behavioral health services and further development of community based programs. “The synergies created by bringing together the best of academic and community care will help meet the region’s needs at a time when these critical services are in great demand,” says Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, M.D., chief of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The NSMC plan also addresses the clinical and financial challenges of providing the highest level of inpatient care — including the demand for more and more sophisticated technology and specialized clinical expertise, despite declining census — in two inpatient facilities that are less than six miles apart.

Improvements on the Salem Campus

To accommodate the consolidation of medical, surgical and behavioral health services, NSMC will build a new Emergency Department and two additional family-centered inpatient units at NSMC Salem Hospital. The former Spaulding Hospital North Shore will be renovated to accommodate expanded behavioral health services for children, adolescents, adults and seniors. Key access areas such as the hospital’s main entrance and green spaces will also be reconfigured and renovated to improve way finding and provide a more welcoming and efficient patient experience. “Consolidating services is vital to enhancing quality of care and improving the patient experience,” says Mitchell S. Rein, M.D., NSMC Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. “With a single hospital, we can provide deeper specialization, better coordination of care and enhanced safety.”

Robust primary, specialty and urgent care to expand in Lynn

As care increasingly shifts from inpatient to outpatient settings and the role of primary care expands, NSMC will be expanding its North Shore Physicians Group (NSPG) practices in Lynn. These expanded services will include primary, specialty and urgent care and associated outpatient services that will serve a wide range of health care needs of local residents. Even with this expansion, however, the medical center will be left with a significant amount of excess property on the Union Hospital site, so it will engage with Lynn city officials and the Lynn community about the best options for reuse.

Continued investment in community health

The plan includes continued investment in community health that builds on years of collaboration with community organizations, the Lynn Community Health Center and the North Shore Community Health Center to increase access to a spectrum of care. In addition to providing support for vulnerable populations, NSMC will be collaborating to address obesity, addiction and teen pregnancy in local communities.

More integrated care improves quality, coordination

Integral to the plan are new models of care at NSMC that improve coordination, efficiency and safety. One example is the Integrated Care Management Program that is helping NSMC to manage its most complex patients, by using early intervention and better care coordination to prevent admissions and unnecessary emergency room visits. And NSMC is investing in Partners eCare, the electronic healthcare system that enables all caregivers in the Partners system to access their patients’ health information at any time, enhancing coordination, quality and safety.

“By making the best use of health care resources available in the region to the greatest benefit of patients in the area, we are advancing the goals of population health management,” says Norton. “Furthermore, by caring for patients within a coordinated system, we can monitor the quality of their care more effectively and avoid repetitive procedures, such as tests and imaging that can happen when a patient sees a number of disconnected providers.”

Mission remains unchanged

“Our mission to provide the finest care to the patients of greater Lynn, Salem and throughout the North Shore will never change,” says Norton. “We b

Union Hospital in Lynn is slated to close under a new consolidation plan announced by Partners HealthCare.

Union Hospital in Lynn is slated to close under a new consolidation plan announced by Partners HealthCare.

elieve that this consolidation coupled with the investments in primary, urgent, and specialty care, behavioral health services, care coordination and community health resources is in the best long-term interests of the communities we serve. In short, we will offer increased access, better care, and lower costs.

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