Guest columnist Dr. Lynnette Watkins: Cooley Dickinson Hospital embraced progress, navigated challenges in 2023

Dr. Lynnette Watkins

Dr. Lynnette Watkins FILE PHOTO


Published: 01-01-2024 6:50 PM

To members of our community: As we approach the conclusion of 2023, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the journey we have shared this year and provide you with an update on recent developments at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. This year has been marked by both celebrations and challenges, and we appreciate your steadfast support throughout.

Every decision we make at the hospital begins with the safety and well-being of our patients. As the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported on Nov. 17, we recently experienced an unexpected downtime of the equipment responsible for sterilizing certain medical instruments and devices on-site. In response, we temporarily paused certain urgent and non-urgent surgical procedures. Thanks to the diligent efforts of our incredible team at Cooley Dickinson — working in collaboration with Mass General Brigham, local officials, and other healthcare organizations — we were able to address the issue promptly and develop interim plans to care for patients. Normal operations resumed Nov. 28 and all impacted patients are being promptly rescheduled. I want to thank those members of our staff whose vigilance was crucial in identifying and mitigating the issue.

We value the trust you place in us as your healthcare provider and I am proud to say we have been and remain committed to providing safe, compassionate, personalized care at Cooley Dickinson.

Your trust and support continue to inspire us to elevate and enhance our levels of care. We reached a major milestone this summer with the groundbreaking ceremony for our new emergency department renovation. This $26 million project, which is estimated for completion in the fall of 2025, represents a 40% expansion of our current facilities. We extend our gratitude to our community for the overwhelming support, including generous $250,000 gifts from both Amherst College and Smith College, towards this vital initiative. We hope it serves as a shining example of our commitment to meeting the evolving needs of western Massachusetts — ensuring you have access to high-quality care close to home.

This groundbreaking event also marked the 10-year anniversary of our partnership with Mass General Brigham, a partnership that has allowed us to enhance our services and navigate the complexities of the healthcare landscape. The new brand identity we launched this year reinforces our enhanced collaboration with a world-class healthcare system with patients at its center. Whether you or a family member seeks care at the MGH Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson, telestroke care with MGH Neurology, or other services Cooley provides in partnership with many Mass General Brigham facilities, we continue to grow and expand our relationship within Mass General Brigham to bring great care to the Pioneer Valley.

There is so much more to celebrate and acknowledge — community events and grants, a work program for disabled adults, a new agreement benefiting our union colleagues, numerous awards, the new Childbirth Center Renovation and higher level of care in the nursery. The list expands far beyond the space we have to mention in this letter.

But as we look ahead to 2024, we are confident in our ability to continue providing exceptional, compassionate, equitable, and  personalized care. Cooley Dickinson Hospital remains a strong community partner and resource for the Pioneer Valley and your ongoing support is fundamental to our success.

We wish you and your loved ones a healthy and joyous new year.

Dr. Lynnette Watkins is president and chief operating officer of Cooley Dickinson Hospital.