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State To Move Most Shattuck Hospital Care To South End

The Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
The Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

The Baker administration plans to purchase the former university hospital on Boston Medical Center's (BMC) campus and transfer patients currently treated at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital on the edge of Franklin Park there in 2021.

The main reason: Moving the 260 patient beds will cost about half as much as renovating Shattuck would.

"The administration has carefully weighed many options and communicated with stakeholders about renovation needs," said a Health and Human Services spokeswoman in a statement. The BMC building, now called the Newton Pavilion, is "the best option for patients that will also save taxpayers nearly $200 million."

The state expects to transfer all 700 employees who work in Shattuck's medical and surgical units and psychiatric programs, including those who treat Department of Corrections inmates when they need hospital care. Shattuck staff was briefed on the move just after noon on Monday.

“Right now we’re supportive of the move, but as the process moves forward we’ll be watching the transition carefully to ensure the administration keeps its promises,” said Jim Durkin, legislative director for ASFCME Council 93, which represents 310 Shattuck employees who provide direct care, security and housekeeping.

The Newton Pavilion currently holds up to 214 patients. They will be moved to other facilities on the BMC campus by this fall. BMC decided to sell the building in 2014 as part of a broad redesign that is shifting patient care to the Menino Pavilion, or what some may know as the Boston City Hospital side of BMC's campus.

The Baker administration says relocating to the South End will create new opportunities for collaboration. Boston University Medical School and BU's School of Public Health are nearby, as is the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program and the Boston Public Health Commission.

Several facilities will remain on the Shattuck campus including a shelter operated by Pine Street Inn, residential addiction treatment programs and a methadone clinic.

The state will hire a consultant to develop recommendations for the best future use of Shattuck's 13-acre campus. It must, by law, be used for public health purposes. Some South End residents are already rolling out ideas.

Perhaps one of the two methadone clinics that operate in the South End could move to Shattuck, Steve Fox suggests. He chairs the South End Forum, a collection of 17 independent neighborhood groups.

Fox says the South End is ready to absorb whatever additional traffic and activity the Shattuck transfer brings, but he hopes the state will use the sprawling facility in Jamaica Plain to ease the concentration of addiction treatment services near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard.

"I think it's only fair," says Fox, "to create a better balance and alleviate some of the crisis constraints that we face today in the South End in terms of both the addiction recovery as well as the homelessness issues."

Fox and Sue Sullivan at the Newmarket Business Association have proposed creating a recovery campus at Shattuck, although there's also talk about developing that idea on Boston's Long Island.

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Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.

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