VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System and UMass Medical School will build a new, community-based outpatient clinic (CBOC) for veterans, projected to open in 2021, on the campus of UMass Medical School in Worcester. The CBOC will occupy 53,000 square feet on the first two levels of a new, four-story clinical building, which will total 100,000 square feet.
“This large-scale, state-of-the-art veteran health care and education facility will support a growing veteran population and train future providers to ensure exceptional health care for those who served,” said John P. Collins, FACHE, chief executive officer and director of VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System. “The new clinic, by combining primary care and numerous medical specialties in one facility, will improve the coordination of care and access for the veterans we serve in Worcester County and the surrounding region, which has long experienced the largest growth needs.”
Key features of the CBOC include 65 exam, consultation and procedure rooms designed for patient-aligned care teams. Specialty care, including radiology, echocardiology, physical and occupational therapy, a clinical lab and a pharmacy will be located within the CBOC. There will be 270 parking spaces dedicated for VA patients and staff. Site preparation for construction will begin in late 2019, with the LEED Silver certified building expected to be completed in mid-2021.
The new CBOC will replace the VA’s current Lincoln Street facility. The specialty clinic at 377 Plantation Street for patients requiring podiatry, audiology and optometry services, which opened in 2016 through a partnership between the VACWMA and the Medical School, will remain at its current site. The CBOC will be located on a site being vacated by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation District 3 Headquarters, which is moving to a new facility on Plantation Street.
The new CBOC is the result of persistent, multi-year efforts by the VACWMA, UMass Medical School and legislative leaders, particularly Congressman James McGovern; and bipartisan support from the administrations of Gov. Charlie Baker, former Gov. Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts Legislature.
Michael F. Collins, MD, UMass Medical School’s chancellor and senior vice president for the health sciences, noted, “As the commonwealth’s first and only public medical school, for years we have felt a particular urgency to step forward as a willing and innovative partner with the VA to reduce wait times and improve access to primary and specialty health care for veterans in our community. We are grateful for the collaboration to date with the VA and to Rep. James McGovern, who has been a steadfast champion of this goal. We recognize the privilege of caring for those who serve our nation and look forward to discussing how we can enhance learning and research opportunities in the future that will benefit veterans and our faculty, medical and nursing students, and researchers alike.”
Ryan Lilly, the director of VA New England Healthcare System, said the news comes after years of hard work and planning to target and to meet the needs of Veterans in and around Worcester County.
“I’m very proud that our VISN’s newest community-based outpatient clinic will be breaking ground in Worcester on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Medical School,” he said. The Veterans Integrated Service Network 1 is comprised of multiple healthcare systems across several states. Lilly said the increased educational partnership will bolster future reinforcements in the VA’s mission to care for those who served their country. “It will facilitate and foster even greater collaboration with community health providers and with our UMass academic affiliate.”
Community and VA leaders tout the Worcester CBOC as a critical step in the history of the VA’s multi-state healthcare system, VISN 1, and will greatly improve future delivery of care for veterans who live throughout the New England region.
Congressman McGovern, 2nd District, said the project took years to shape and to make its way through Washington, but as a champion of the project he never doubted it would happen.
“Strengthening and expanding access to health care for our veterans is one of the most important ways our nation can honor their service,” said McGovern. “When I talk with veterans at meetings and town halls, this is the kind of facility they want. It is going to make a world of difference for folks in central Massachusetts who can now get more of the care they need right here in Worcester. Many of us have been fighting for this day for a long time, but I want to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Chancellor Collins for his insistence and persistence in making this clinic a reality. I’m proud to have worked side by side with him and the VA every step of the way to move this project forward and improve the lives of our veterans and their families.”
“The addition of the Worcester VA Outpatient clinic adds a vital health care access point for Veterans in Central Massachusetts,” said Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary Francisco A. Ureña. “We will continue to work with our federal and state partners to ensure that every Veteran, regardless of where they live in Massachusetts, has access to high-quality medical care close to home.”
“The University of Massachusetts is fortunate to have thousands of faculty, staff and students who are active service members or Veterans,” said UMass President Marty Meehan, who noted that all five UMass campuses have been consistently recognized for their support of Veterans and military families. “Supporting Veterans - honoring their courage, determination and selflessness - and caring for them when they have medical need is an important part of what we do at UMass.”