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Baystate Acquisition of Noble Could Be Approved Wednesday

WESTFIELD — Baystate Health’s plan to acquire Noble Hospital in Westfield has been put on the fast track. The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission will not require a full costand market-impact review, and is expected to approve the deal at its Wednesday meeting in Boston. The commission’s review is concurrent with a review by the state Department of Health.

The acquisition, if approved, comes just eight months after Wing Memorial Hospital in Palmer officially became part of Baystate Health last fall. Wing was the region’s third community hospital to join the system, following Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield in 1986 and Mary Lane Hospital in Ware in 1991. Nine years ago, Baystate Health was in serious talks to bring Noble Hospital into its system, but the potential deal fell through late in 2006.

Baystate officials said the Wing affiliation strengthens what the health system calls its Eastern Region, which also includes Baystate Mary Lane. Noble would represent a significant western expansion, as Noble serves patients from Westfield, Southwick, Agawam, and the hilltowns. Baystate and Noble already collaborate in many areas, including lab services, heart and vascular care, women’s services, and neurology.

Meanwhile, Noble has become a more attractive target for Baystate in recent years, increasing its number of primary-care physicians from one to 16, and unveiling a renovated patient wing, a new Comprehensive Primary Care Office building, a new Noble Walk-In Express Care service next door that sees some 1,100 patients monthly, a urology practice, new orthopedic offices, and comprehensive breast-cancer services with a full-time breast surgeon.

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