Making her first appearance since dropping a bombshell last week about moving operations from the Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain to the Newton Pavilion in the South End, State Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders appeared at Tuesday’s South End Forum to introduce the plan publicly – saying they would be a good neighbor to the South End.
Sudders was introduced by Forum Moderator Steve Fox, who – along with Newmarket Business Association Director Sue Sullivan – has been in close contact with Sudders for about one year regarding Shattuck serving as a Recovery Campus.
“The Commonwealth has been looking to renovate or build a modern hospital on the Shattuck site,” she said. “The cost of renovating or building a new hospital is between $400 million and $500 million…on the Shattuck campus. The purchase and renovation costs Newton Pavilion is $200 million. The Commonwealth has given the public intent to purchase the Newton Pavilion to relocate the inpatient services from the Shattuck Hospital, and some portion yet to be determined of the outpatient clinics, to the Newton Pavilion.”
The plan, as reported in the Sun last week, would include 260 beds for medical/surgical inpatient services, psychiatric inpatient services, and Department of Corrections inpatient services. The outpatient clinic partial move was new to the plan, but would not include services such as the homeless shelter, recovery programs and the methadone clinic that exist on the Shattuck now. There would be no emergency room at the Pavilion, as there isn’t one in the Shattuck now.
The purchase is set to be made in October, with a move in date some time in 2021.
“At the same time we announced this move, we released an RFP or bid to have a consultant to work with the Commonwealth, the state and the community around the re-use of the Shattuck property, which is an open question,” she said. “It’s 13 acres and still on the property are very important services provided by places like the Pine Street Inn…We’ve made a concerted effort to work with those providers around their future there. These are important services for us. They are not, though, moving (to the South End).”
She said within that RFP community planning process for the Shattuck, there will be a steering committee. Already, she has asked Fox and Sullivan to serve on that committee.
They have accepted.
There is a possibility, she said, that the Shattuck could serve temporarily as a landing place for the coming Long Island Recovery campus as the City continues with its two-year permitting of the new Bridge, and the two-year construction period.
“That’s obviously one part of this, that Shattuck could be used as a transition while folks are waiting for Long Island,” she said.
Mayor Martin Walsh announced in January the City’s intent to re-build the Long Island Bridge and construct a full Recovery Campus on the Island. It is likely four years or more away.
Sudders, who lives in Cambridge, said the inpatient and outpatient services coming to the South End would be subject to a needs assessment of her organization and community input. She said a lot of the services now offered at Shattuck may not be necessary any longer, or could be accomplished remotely through things like TeleHealth.
She also said that there needed to be a traffic mitigation plan for the 700 or so employees that work at the Shattuck and are expected to move to the Newton Pavilion.
“That is part of this process,” Sudders said.
Sudders concluded by noting that they want to be a good neighbor to the South End, and they don’t want to add weight to the footprint of existing services.
She said they have already agreed to give money to the City to fund additional outreach workers in the Mass/Cass areas. And also, she said they plan to work to make sure their property is well taken care of. She said one example of that is in the Longwood Medical Area where they worked with Brigham & Women’s Hospital to transform the former Mass. Mental Health building from an eyesore to a nice facility.
“We want to be good neighbors,” she said. “The Mass. Mental Health building was an eyesore. It is now a great example of a building that looks great and is a model of something we would all be proud of. That’s what you should hold us to.”