CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Baystate Health has announced plans to close the Baystate Mary Lane Outpatient Center in Ware.

In a virtual news conference on Tuesday, Dr. Mark Keroack, MPH, president and CEO of Baystate Health said that over the next two years the majority of services will transition to Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer.

The 80 current employees will be relocated to other positions within the Baystate Health system.

“With three kids, I can say we’ve visited the ER many times and I do think there is a lot of people in the community who walk who maybe don’t have transportation to Palmer or Springfield so I do think it’s going to be a big loss,” said Anne Nadima-Pendleton of Ware.

For more information on the proposed closure, and to read Baystate Health’s letter to the community, go to this link.

Keroack also said the Baystate Mary Lane Satellite Emergency Facility will close and cancer care services will be transitioned to the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care by June 2021. 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.

“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. 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. 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.”

Dr. Keroack, MPH, president and CEO of Baystate Health

Baystate Health will be submitting a notice to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MassDPH) about their intent to close the facility. As part of the process, Baystate Health will be holding public hearings and a virtual town hall for public input.

According to Molly Gray, president and chief administrative officer for the Baystate Health Eastern Region, nearly half of Baystate Mary Lane Outpatient Center’s capacity is unused during the daytime and 90% is unused during overnight hours. The center averages about 28 patients a day, and over 85% of those visits are minor medical issues that could be seen in a primary care office.

“Patients are actually choosing to receive their care elsewhere, in other locations,” said Molly Gray at Baystate Health. “Today, nearly half of Baystate Mary Lane outpatient center is vacant by day and 90-percent unused at night.”

Both Keroack and Gray also cited the difficulty in retaining and recruiting new providers at the facility.

Key factors in the decision are reflective of the current state of care delivery at Baystate Mary Lane Outpatient Center:

  • Nearly half of Baystate Mary Lane Outpatient Center’s capacity is unused during the daytime and 90 percent is unused during overnight hours.
  • Baystate Mary Lane’s Satellite Emergency Facility has had minimal utilization for emergency level care. Of the 28 patients per day seeking care in this location, over 85% (24 out of 28) 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 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 over $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.