LYNN — Patients will have to seek surgery elsewhere as the North Shore Medical Center has closed its operating rooms at Union Hospital.
Operating rooms closed last Thursday, and the entire hospital is scheduled to close next year. A medical village, which would replace Union, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019 to coincide with the closure.
The Department of Public Health approved a $180 million expansion of North Shore Medical Center (NSMC) in 2016, which will close Union and move the beds to a new Salem campus in 2019. The medical facilities in Lynn and Salem are part of Partners Healthcare.
“The original plan was for it (the operating rooms) to remain open until we consolidated the two hospitals in 2019,” said Laura Fleming, a spokeswoman for North Shore Medical Center. “We can accommodate the patients in Salem and we hope they continue to seek surgical services there.”
Fleming said the decision to close the operating rooms ahead of schedule was made because a large orthopedic surgical group, Sports Medicine North, that operates at Union and was responsible for a majority of surgical activity, was going to leave NSMC staff. Those physicians had notified NSMC that they would discontinue services, effective March 1.
She said the decision to close surgical services was made in February — NSMC notified the Department of Public Health (DPH) and gave 90 days notice that it would be discontinuing operating services at Union.
“These clinicians were responsible for the majority of surgical cases at Union and continuing a surgical service there without them is neither clinically nor financially feasible,” reads a NSMC report to DPH.
The report reads that plans were put in place to transition orthopedic cases to Salem after March 1 and adjust operations to accommodate the consolidated volume.
Fleming said a number of staff who had been working in surgical services at Union were transitioned over to Salem.
“We certainly hope that people will continue to turn to North Shore Medical Center (as) we look forward to caring for them as we consolidate the two hospitals,” Fleming said.
Ward 1 City Councilor Wayne Lozzi said NSMC had notified various stakeholders in the city when the decision to close operating rooms at Union was made.
“I hate to say it,” Lozzi said. “It’s a part of what ultimately is happening there. It is gradually closing down. The emergency room is committed to be open there until October 2019…It’s all a part of this gradual closing of the hospital. It’s disappointing and sad to see.”
The 37,000 square-foot, $23 million facility, or medical village, on the Union campus would offer urgent care, basic lab and radiology services, outpatient psychiatry services and an expanded home for the North Shore Physicians Group Lynn primary and specialty care practice currently located in the West Medical Building on the Union Hospital campus, according to Fleming.
The City Council amended zoning last month to allow for a medical village and city officials are planning for how the remainder of the site will be developed, as they estimate the facility will only require about a third of the 15-plus acre parcel.
Partners is working with Lynn city leaders on a plan to sell the remainder of the site for development. Partners has agreed to fund a $30,000 Master Plan study, a process coordinated by the city, to determine possible uses for the remainder of the Union property.