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WARE — Baystate Health announced it will close Baystate Mary Lane Outpatient Center in Ware within the next two years and relocate the majority of services to Baystate Wing Hospital, located nine miles away in Palmer.

“We know this is difficult news for our community. Along with our Baystate care providers, patients, and community, we are grateful for the quality care that has been provided at Baystate Mary Lane over the many years since it was first established in 1909,” said Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health.

Over the course of the health system’s nearly 150-year history, Keroack said, Baystate has adapted to the changing needs of each of the communities in order to ensure delivery of care.

“We carefully look at current needs and plan for the future to ensure that we deliver on our mission. The closure of Mary Lane Outpatient Center comes as we look to better meet the contemporary healthcare needs of communities across our region in a sustainable way,” he added. “Among the reasons for the closure is that, despite our significant investment in this location during the past several years, patients are choosing to receive care in other locations.”

He noted that nearly half of Baystate Mary Lane Outpatient Center’s capacity is unused during the daytime, and 90% is unused during overnight hours. Its satellite emergency facility been minimally utilized for emergency-level care. Of the 28 patients per day seeking care in this location, more than 85% present with common, minor, non-urgent conditions such as cold, flu, and sprains, which could be treated in a primary-care setting.

It has been challenging to recruit and retain providers in the area, especially in small practices. Over the past two years, Baystate Health Eastern Region primary care lost seven physicians and gained just one. This market reality highlights the need to consolidate practices in support of clinician candidates who seek robust multi-specialty practices with an opportunity to network and share with colleagues the on-call needs to support patient care.

Due to the age of the current Baystate Mary Lane building, to maintain steady-state operations would require more than $5 million in construction investments to maintain the facility, compliance, and operations over the next three years. Consolidating operations at Baystate Wing will allow Baystate Health to better invest resources in state-of-the-art care, emergency care, physician recruitment, and improved access to primary care. It also allows for more effective staffing in an area where recruiting clinical professionals can be challenging.

Baystate Health’s goal over the next several months is to work collaboratively with the Baystate Mary Lane team and engage with the community in developing an orderly transition plan for programs and services to Baystate Wing. In June, the emergency facility will close, and cancer care services will be transitioned to the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care. Over the next two years, imaging/3D mammography and rehabilitation services, as well as ob/gyn and pediatric medical practices, will relocate to Baystate Wing.

Cancer patients who receive care at Baystate Mary Lane will be offered transportation at no charge following the transition of care to Springfield. To support access to outpatient appointments at Baystate Wing Hospital when the two Baystate medical practices at Baystate Mary Lane transition over the next two years, Baystate will look to the foundation it has built with the Quaboag Connector and, if feasible, will further invest in this resource. More information will be forthcoming as needs, services, and transportation options are evaluated.

Baystate Wing Hospital’s comprehensive healthcare service plans include primary and multi-specialty medical practices including integrated behavioral health and substance-use treatment, with expanded hours and walk-in, same-day appointments; specialty care in cardiology, pulmonary, gastroenterology, surgery, orthopedics, ob/gyn, and pediatrics; and significantly expanding GI endoscopy.

“We are committed to investing in community-based, primary-care physician recruitment and retention in this region, with a focus on increasing accessibility for same-day appointments and offering increased availability of pediatric care,” Keroack said. “We will also continue our commitment to the community and support the town of Ware and surrounding communities. Volunteer members from these communities will continue to serve on Baystate Wing Hospital’s Community Benefits Advisory Council, providing their valuable voices to guide Baystate’s continued investment in support of community health needs.”