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Holyoke City Council accepts Baystate Health’s $250,000 offer
HOLYOKE — The City Council has accepted a $250,000 offer for the former Holyoke Geriatric Authority property at 45 Lower Westfield Road, where Baystate Health and Kindred Healthcare propose a $43 million psychiatric hospital.
for former Geriatric Authority property
The proposal drew strong opposition at Tuesday’s council meeting from Holyoke Medical Center, which is planning its own psychiatric facility on its Beech Street campus. HMC President Spiros Hatiras said it was unlikely the state would approve two psychiatric facilities so close together.
The council’s approval removes one hurdle for Baystate and Kindred, which propose a 120-bed facility to serve adults, adolescents and children. The plans still must undergo local approval and permitting.
Hatiras said Holyoke Medical Center’s plans call for a 64-bed behavioral health center. The hospital is already converting its former Birthing Center into inpatient psychiatric beds.
“We saw the pressure that we had in the community for beds,” Hatiras told the council. “It was amplified when Providence closed their beds.”
Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke closed its psychiatric care units in May and June, leaving the region without inpatient beds for pediatric behavioral health care. Operator Mercy Medical Center and parent Trinity Health Of New England cited a shortage of psychiatrists.
Baystate has said it plans to close existing psychiatric units at its hospitals in Westfield, Palmer and Greenfield, consolidating those beds and adding more at the new Holyoke facility.
“They plan on moving beds from other areas and move them to Holyoke,” Hatiras said. “It makes no sense to build two hospitals next to each other, 200 beds two miles apart.”
He feared both projects would not happen under the current course. “One or the other would happen depending on which way this goes,” he said.
Western Massachusetts Jobs With Justice also opposed Baystate’s plan. In an email before Tuesday’s online council session, the group said the proposed for-profit hospital would limit access for patients with “financial challenges.”
Baystate officials have said they are working with community organizations to provide transportation plans.
Baystate Health and Kindred face a $2 million demolition cost to raze the current structures at the former Geriatric Authority.
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