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Massachusetts General Hospital — Harvard Medical School's largest teaching hospital — will construct a 12-story building to accommodate more patients and give healthcare providers access to additional medical technology, the hospital announced last week.
The new building, slated to be 1 million square feet, will add approximately 450 private patient rooms, as well as operating rooms, exam rooms, a procedural suite, imaging facilities, and infusion centers, according to a memo sent to MGH staff Tuesday. Construction will start in 2020.
MGH President Peter L. Slavin ’79 said in an interview that hospital leadership decided to construct a new building because the current MGH facility is overcrowded and does not have enough private rooms to accommodate patients admitted to the hospital. The emergency department faces the same issues, according to Sally Mason Boemer, the hospital’s senior vice president for administration and finance who is overseeing the project.
Hospital administrators decided to pursue the construction project to accommodate more patients while preserving their “privacy and dignity,” Boemer said.
“If you had another roommate right next to you, would you be as forthcoming with your provider about personal information?” Boemer said.
MGH patients will not be the only ones to benefit from the new building; the construction project will also help medical staff as they deliver team-based patient care, Boemer said.
“We need more huddle spaces, whether it’s huddling with family members or huddles with other care providers,” she said. “It’s such team-based care today.”
While the current facilities “tie one arm of our staff behind its back,” Slavin said he hopes the new building will improve medical care delivery and the staff’s working environment.
“I think there will also be space to help some of our workers, in their down time, relax and focus on the quality of their life,” he said. “There’s a big problem with burnout among healthcare workers, and we need to figure out ways, in the space that we design for healthcare in the future, how we can counteract that to some degree.”
Hospital leaders anticipate MGH staff will have to care for increasingly large numbers of patients in coming years.
“Right now in the United States there are about 40 million Medicare beneficiaries, people over the age of 65,” Slavin said. “In 20 years, that number will be 80 million, so there’s going to be a lot more heart disease and cancer and other problems associated with aging that people typically turn to hospitals for help with.”
The number of MGH patients might also rise because other local hospitals, including Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital, have planned or are already undergoing similar renovations — which Slavin said he anticipates will bolster Boston’s status as a hub for medical care and, as a result, draw more patients to Boston-area hospitals including MGH.
“We have an opportunity to attract many more patients from around the country and around the world to receive care,” he said. “I think these buildings will put us in a much more competitive position to do that.”
Hospital leaders said they hope the first stage of the construction will be completed in 2023, and the entire project will be finished by 2026, according to the note sent to MGH staff.
—Staff writer Alexis Bolner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisBolner.
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