Opinion

Letter to the Editor: Excellent emergency resources will continue in Lynn

Recent articles have questioned whether North Shore Medical Center’s future emergency facilities will be able to meet the demands of the communities we serve, including those of Lynn-area residents impacted by the consolidation of Salem and Union hospitals.

The answer is absolutely yes. As physicians who have dedicated our careers to caring for residents in this community, and as leaders of this organization, we care deeply about providing a consolidation plan that will ensure that exceptional care remains available to all of our patients well into the future.

The consolidation plan underway has been carefully developed, with many Lynn leaders, residents and community advocates involved, to ensure that we will deliver on that mission.

Emergency facilities are expanding and improving: With respect to emergency capacity, not only does the plan include a significant expansion of the Emergency Department in Salem and a redesign of the space to improve efficiency and patient experience, it also includes improvements to other parts of the care system that have an impact on emergency resources.

These additional improvements include:

Urgent Care: A robust urgent care center, operated by Partners Urgent Care, will be available in the medical village currently under construction on the Union Hospital campus, for patients with less acute health care needs. The medical village will also offer labs, radiology, physician offices and many services Lynn residents use today on the Union Hospital campus.

In addition, the Lynn Community Health Center, an important partner in our planning, recently expanded its urgent care center operations to seven days a week in downtown Lynn.

This facility accommodates many patients who used to seek urgent care at the Union Hospital Emergency Department.

Increase in psychiatry capacity — NSMC is nearly doubling behavioral health capacity, adding 54 new psychiatry beds on the Salem Campus to accommodate patients who often wait hours or even days in our current Emergency Departments for suitable psychiatric placement. Providing more psychiatry beds will not only enable us to provide better care to our behavioral health patients but will also free up space in the Emergency Department for patients with other needs.

Access to general inpatient medical/surgical beds: The Salem expansion project includes 24 new private patient rooms that will be earmarked for medical and cardiology patients. Opening this capacity will improve throughput for patients being admitted to the hospital from the Emergency

Department and in turn, ease overcrowding.

Education about appropriate use of the Emergency Department: Key to managing volume in the Emergency Department is ensuring that patients understand the appropriate use of emergency vs. urgent care services. NSMC will be engaging in a robust, multi-lingual public communication campaign as we get closer to transitioning care on the Union campus from emergency to urgent care in spring 2020.

We look forward to working with our community partners to extend this message throughout the area.

Ample contingency resources: NSMC will also retain emergency licensed beds currently located on the Salem campus, as well as other resources that can be activated during peak times (such as flu season) for overflow capacity.

There are many factors that impact capacity of a community Emergency Department and we believe our multi-faceted plan accommodates them. We look forward to continuing the important work we have done with local health care and emergency response leaders to ensure that the excellent care our patients have come to expect will be available to the Greater Lynn community for many years to come.

David J. Roberts, M.D.

President

North Shore Medical Center

Phillip Rice, M.D.

Chief, Emergency Department

North Shore Medical Center

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