Boston Medical Center (BMC) officials told members of the Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association on Tuesday night they are preparing to file a new 10-year Institutional Master Plan (IMP) in June that will address new projects and traffic mitigation plans.
“Starting around June, we’ll be filing our IMP,” said Bob Biggio of BMC. “I expect we’ll be working with the community and talking about that IMP and all of the traffic data…It will be a community process. A lot of it will be focused on re-designing the main entrance and lobby. We want to do a lot of work to modernize our entrance and modernize our lobby. We see it as putting the final stamp in building the right entrance to the organization.”
That IMP will outline a 10-year plan of all projects that are in the works and are being considered. It will also separate BMC from the BU Master Plan, which will also be filing around the same time, he said.
The discussion of the IMP came as neighbors have noticed a tremendous backlog of traffic at the Harrison Avenue entrance over the last several months.
Biggio said there was a lot of traffic there over the last few years as they closed their Emergency Room entrance on Albany Street during construction. That allowed them to make new entrance to the ER at the Shapiro Building off the main road. That entrance opened last fall, but Biggio said he believes patients have learned a lesson about coming to BMC during construction.
He said even though there is a new entrance, patients are still coming to the main entrance in order to utilize the valet.
“What people are saying is they come to the main entrance anyway to use the valet and then walk through the building to the ER,” he said.
He said they have come up with a short-term remedy, which is adding a valet service to the Shapiro Building in the next 30-45 days.
“One thing we’re planning to do within 30 to 45 day is we will start a new valet service on Shapiro Drive to curtail that traffic at the main entrance,” he said. “I anticipate that will take some traffic away from the main entrance.”
That valet service would park cars in the lot at the front of the Power Plant on Albany Street.
Additionally, they will also change the protocol at the main entrance for valet, with pickup being in a different location than drop-off.
Neighbors said they thought that part of the problem might be Uber and Lyft services bringing patients and hospital workers to the main entrance – people who likely used public transportation in the past to get to the hospital.
Biggio said they would look at potentially adding a new place for ride-share companies that is outside of the main traffic queue.
Both Andy Brand and Peter Sanborn said they would like BMC to consider making the main entrance on East Concord Street and the exit on Harrison, which Biggio said he is open to exploring in the IMP discussions.
Biggio said a traffic engineer is currently working on studies that will be included in the IMP.
• WSANA Concerned about Patient Passes at Shattuck
Members of WSANA were particularly bothered by a recent report from the state about the patient practices that would be in place at the Shattuck Hospital when it re-locates from Jamaica Plain to the Newton Pavilion in 2022. At a recent meeting, state officials said about 25 percent of the inpatient population would be able to come and go from the hospital without any supervision.
WSANA members said that was never discussed in previous meetings with the state last year. Many felt that patients in the Shattuck would be particularly vulnerable to some of the nefarious drug-related activities on Albany and the Mass/Cass corridor.
“We have found out they will let many of the patients out during the day onto the street,” said Andy Brand. “It seems to me it might not be a great idea to let these folks out onto the Methadone Mile. We think that isn’t a great idea. I’ll assume we didn’t ask them that question. I assumed that these patients would be there inside until they get better.”
Robert George said there is a major difference between letting patients out in the park-like setting in JP and letting them out onto Mass/Cass.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I can’t see how they can justify bringing these people with these issues here to the South End and letting them go out onto Methadone Mile. I’d like to hear their thought process on that.”
So it will be.
President George Stergios said they would invite state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders to a future meeting to explain how patients would be protected.
•Cameras in WSANA
The membership of WSANA was divided in whether they would like to ask for an expansive surveillance camera system to be installed in their streets and alleys.
The Newmarket Business Association said this week they planned to outfit all of their streets with cameras as part of their new Business Improvement District (BID) funding, and the worry in WSANA is that more cameras could push more homeless and drug-addicted into WSANA.
“I think we need to ask for these cameras sooner rather than later,” said Brand.
Sanborn said he wasn’t too keen on the idea of a ‘big brother’ state in WSANA.
“I’m not sure I want a police state,” he said. “Most of the people we encounter it won’t make a difference in their behavior. It may help police arrest them, but I don’t think it will change behavior.”
President George Stergios agreed.
“I agree,” he said. “I think we can get a little quick to put up cameras under the idea that none of us would do anything wrong if it’s on camera.”
•POLICE CHANGES AT BMC
BMC’s Bob Biggio said that as BMC and Boston University continue to separate themselves from one another organizationally, one change coming soon would be to the public safety police force on the campus.
Right now, BU Public Safety patrols the campus, with backup coming from BU Police. In the next several months, the Public Safety force is going to separate out, with about 70 percent of the unarmed officers going under the BMC umbrella.
He said he believes that it would result in a little bit better patrolling of the campus, particularly since BMC has consolidated so much with the purchase of the Crosstown building on Albany Street. He said they would probably be calling Boston Police more often for backup, though.
•CONCERTS IN THE SQUARE
The concert lineup for the summer concert series is firming up this month, with the first one scheduled for Thursday, June 20. There will be a total of four concerts throughout the summer, each on the third Thursday of the month.