SALEM — The public will get its first up-close look at Salem
Hospital’s $180 million expansion plan Thursday night, when Hospital
officials are scheduled to appear before the Planning Board to seek local approval for the project.
The project, which was first announced in 2013, includes construction of a three-story building with a new emergency department and two new inpatient floors, renovation of the former Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital into a 120-bed mental health center, and a new main entrance and lobby.
North Shore Medical Center
President and CEO Robert Norton said all of the construction will take place within the core of the hospital campus “far away from any neighbors.”
“It’s pretty well self-contained,” he said.
The expansion, which is being undertaken by Partners Health Care
, the parent company of Salem Hospital, has run into strong opposition in Lynn because it involves the closing of Union Hospital in that city and the consolidation of services in Salem. In Salem, the plan received a mostly positive reception at a public hearing run by the state Department of Public Health in January at the Hawthorne Hotel.
The project is still awaiting approval from the DPH, which Hospital Officials
are hoping to get in July. In the meantime, they are beginning the process of seeking approval from local boards on such matters as traffic, building height, and the impact on adjacent wetlands.
Hospital officials said any increase in traffic generated by the expansion will be offset by last year’s closing of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and the upcoming relocation of outpatient services that are still in the building.
“It’s basically a wash,” Norton said.
The project will also include construction of a new driveway that runs through the campus from the Highland Avenue entrance to the new building, which will be built at the back of the campus on the Jefferson Avenue side. The road will require blasting and will be near Bertram Field, the city’s athletic stadium. Hospital officials said they will coordinate the construction and blasting with city and school officials.
Construction is expected to start this summer and take about three years, officials said. Both Salem and Union hospitals will stay open until construction is complete.
Norton said the project is necessary because it has become increasingly difficult and expensive to operate two hospitals less than 6 miles apart. The consolidation is expected to save Partners Health Care about $15 million per year, which hospital officials say will help offset losses from treating patients on state insurance programs. North Shore Medical Center lost $30 million due to underfunding in 2015, they said.
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