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Baystate Health Announces Changes to Eastern Region Services

WARE, PALMER — A year after adding Wing Memorial Hospital in Palmer to its family of community hospitals, Baystate Health announced it is seeking regulatory approval to integrate what is now known as Baystate Wing Hospital and Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware into a single-license regional hospital network.

This change in status will involve a consolidation of all inpatient services to Baystate Wing and begin a transition of the Baystate Mary Lane campus into a regional outpatient services center.

The transition process will formally begin in December with applications by Baystate Health to Massachusetts regulatory authorities to consolidate both facilities onto a single license. Pending those approvals, the change is expected to take place in the spring of 2016.

“Providing the right care in the right place at the right time is the notion that’s driving our efforts to evolve and succeed for our patients in the era of healthcare reform,” said Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health. “Transitioning inpatient services to a single campus allows us to provide the safest and highest-quality hospital care at a single site.”

With 74 beds, Baystate Wing Hospital has the ability, with its existing capacity, to care for patients who are now hospitalized at Baystate Mary Lane, said Dr. Charles Cavagnaro III, president of Baystate Health’s Eastern Region, which includes the Palmer and Ware facilities.

“On average, there are fewer than 10 patients being cared for on the inpatient unit at Baystate Mary Lane each day,” he added. “Consolidating the region’s inpatients in one location would be a more efficient use of our limited resources at a time when all healthcare organizations need to receive and deliver the greatest possible value for every healthcare dollar spent.”

Particularly following an expansion of Wing’s inpatient units in 2009, adding 40 medical-surgical beds, six ICU beds, and 28 psychiatric beds, the Palmer campus is more than capable of handling additional traffic, Cavagnaro noted.

“That’s one of the reasons behind this consolidation. It’s certainly more efficient to keep inpatient care in one location. It also allows us to think about how to transform healthcare to meet the future needs of the region.

“Healthcare is moving increasingly away from inpatient care to outpatient care,” he elaborated. “I think everyone is trying to make do with fewer inpatient beds and pushing that care into the outpatient arena. It’s something we want to do — move away from volume-based care to value-based care, how well we’re keeping the population healthy.”

That’s why the Baystate Mary Lane campus — where, even now, 80% of visits are outpatient — will remain an important part of the Baystate system, which, like all providers in the age of accountable care, is focusing more on keeping people well and out of the hospital than just treating them when they’re ill, Cavagnaro said.

Therefore, Baystate Mary Lane will continue to provide outpatient services for the Ware community, and the region’s primary-care network will not be affected by the inpatient consolidation.

“That piece of the business is not changing,” he said. “My feeling is, whatever we’re doing now for patients in this region, we’ll continue to do for the foreseeable future, and we’ll make changes on the basis of what the community needs and what we can sustainably deliver.”

The move of inpatient services will lead to a reduction of jobs at Baystate Mary Lane. While Baystate Health is still determining the eventual job impact, the consolidation is expected to affect 25 to 30 full-time positions, including management and front-line employees. The system has a workforce-transition policy that supports employees displaced by these changes in numerous ways, including offering placement into open positions within the organization for which they are qualified, Cavagnaro explained.

“We are committed to a transparent process with our team members and our community throughout this period of change,” he said, “and we hope many of the affected employees will find positions within our Eastern Region or the Baystate Health system. We are grateful to all the region’s team members for their dedication and service.”

In the meantime, Baystate Health will continue to monitor community needs as it determines the roles its facilities in Palmer and Ware will play.

“We have a direction and a pathway forward. We kind of know the ultimate destiny, but in healthcare, it’s always going to be fluid,” Cavagnaro said. “Every year, we have a strategic plan, a community-needs assessment. It’s unfair to say, ‘this is what the future is going to be, and it’s written in stone.’ We do know we need to add more value to healthcare, and we need to keep patients healthy wherever they are, here or in their homes. And we need to do this in a way that adds sustainability and quality. We want to be here forever.”

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