Changes in health care delivery prompt Cooley Dickinson, Baystate to do office shuffle
NORTHAMPTON — Prompted by health care reform, both Cooley Dickinson Hospital and Baystate Health are converting traditional medical practices into “patient-centered medical homes,” where care is provided by a physician-led medical team under one roof, coordinated around the needs of patients.
The change, inspired by a transformation in the way health care is provided, will lead to a case of medical-office musical chairs next year, with both announcing plans to relocate medical practices affiliated with their hospitals to new locations within the city.
“Health care reform is all focused on prevention and wellness,” said Jane Albert, director of public affairs at Baystate Health. “We take care of people differently now.”
Such conversions require more space, something both Cooley Dickinson and Baystate Health are seeking to address with recent real estate transactions.
Cooley Dickinson has inked a deal to lease close to 60 percent of the space in the Northampton I-91 Professional Center, a two-building office park under construction off the interstate near the Clarion Hotel.
The hospital intends to move its affiliates, Northampton Family Practice on Carlon Drive and Cooley Dickinson Rehabilitation Services on Locust Street, into 10,000 square feet of space on the main floor of the recently completed building at 8 Atwood Drive, said spokeswoman Christina Trinchero.
The hospital also has agreed to lease a majority of the under-construction second building at the 22 Atwood Drive complex and is planning to house speciality physician practices and, potentially, imaging services, Trinchero said.
She said those plans are still taking shape, as construction of the three-floor, 43,000-square-foot building is just now getting started. The hospital will take 30,000 square feet space in that building.
Cooley Dickinson’s announcement comes less than a week after Baystate Health said it would relocate Pioneer Valley Family Practice on Conz Street to Northampton Crossing, a new mixed-use complex under development on King Street at the former Hill and Dale shopping plaza site.
Albert said the practice will move into about 22,000 square feet of space, or about one-third, of the old mall building that’s under renovation.
The medical practice expects to move its six physicians, 22 staff members and a small laboratory into the new office space in May, Albert said. Baystate officials expect the new site will be more convenient for the practice and its 6,000 patients.
The practice has been on Conz Street for about 15 years, but space is tight and the site offers no room for the expansion needed to implement the medical home concept, Albert said.
Merger not a factor
Even though the hospital groups are shifting medical practices and services in the city, representatives from both said that Cooley Dickinson’s decision earlier this year to merge with Massachusetts General Hospital has nothing to do with the changes.
“These are developments that would have happened anyway,” Trinchero said in an email. “Cooley Dickinson’s intention is that care that can and should be delivered locally and in this region will continue to be provided in this region.”
She said Cooley Dickinson will continue to rely on and refer to Baystate Medical Center patients who need care for trauma, heart attacks and high-risk pregnancies, to name a few.
“We have worked closely with Baystate and its providers to continue to improve the coordination of care provided to patients who use both of our organizations,” she said.
Albert also said the merger had nothing to do with Baystate’s plans at Northampton Crossing. She noted that Pioneer Valley Family Practice, in Northampton since 1997, is growing fast and needs room for the home-based model that its current site can’t provide.
She said that although the practice is affiliated with Baystate Health, its doctors are on staff at Cooley Dickinson. That arrangement will remain.
“We’re not changing anything other than the environment,” Albert said.
Cooley Dickinson plans
Cooley Dickinson expects Northampton Family Practice and Cooley Dickinson Rehabilitation Services will move early next spring, each taking 5,000 square feet of space at 8 Atwood Drive.
Those offices will join Clinical & Support Options, a large regional behavioral health agency that occupies the second and third floors of the three-floor, 39,000-square-foot building.
Northampton Family Practice, a primary care practice affiliated with the hospital, will relocate from 76 Carlon Drive.
Trinchero said the practice needs a larger facility so it can reconfigure its space to offer a medical home concept. Electronic medical records and other technology will be used to expand access, monitor quality and engage patients and families in their care.
For example, patients living with diabetes would see their primary care doctor and would have access to a team of specialists that would help coordinate their diabetes care, nutrition counseling, or pharmacy support.
Cooley Dickinson Rehabilitation Services, which offers physical, occupational and speech and language therapy, will relocate from the hospital at 30 Locust St. to make room for construction of Cooley Dickinson’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is still in the planning stages.
Announced in January 2011, the center will seek to better serve patients by combining care providers, support services and treatment areas in one location at the hospital.