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New health center to open in Greenfield

  • CHC of Franklin County's Chief Executive Officer Edward J. Sayer (left) and CHD's CEO and President Jim Goodwin (right) discuss their new joint health center, set to open on Main Street in Greenfield in November Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

GREENFIELD — In a nearly $6 million project, a new integrated health services center at 102 Main St. is set to open its doors for dental patients in November with medical and behavioral services expected to open in early 2018.

The Community Health Center dental practice in Turners Falls will move into the building. The rest of the Center’s Franklin County services and the local arm of the Center for Human Development, a social and mental health services nonprofit, will move out of Cherry Rum Plaza and into what will be called the Greenfield Center for Wellness.

All of these services will come together in the old Sears and Roebuck store, with its 1930s storefront set to be potentially revitalized with this project. They will form what is being billed as a one-stop shop for medical, behavioral and dental services, which both providers hope to be a resounding reply to the current state of inflating healthcare costs.

“I really think we’re building the health center of the future,” CHC of Franklin County Chief Executive Officer Edward J. Sayer said. “There are a lot of balls up in the air for health care right now, but we have a vision and it’s in a beautiful facility.”

Sayer added: “We don’t have a crystal ball but based on all of our combined experience I really think this is where health care is going.”

The endeavor began about a year ago when approved by the town as a $2.7 to 3 million project. Regardless of what happens nationally in discussions of replacing the Affordable Care Act, the Main Street center will addresses the growing demand for health care in an aging society, particularly in the county, the developers say.

“What we’re doing fits into a much larger picture,” President and CEO of Center for Human Development Jeff Goodwin said. “This isn’t something that Ed (Sayer) and I dreamed up over coffee. This is the direction that health care is moving.”

Sayer pointed to what he explained as the current “service isolated model” that can require a patient to go from doctor’s office to doctor’s office for various, but sometimes connected problems. In this system patients often get a referral from a doctor to see another.

“Having everything in one location will really facilitate looking at the whole person in one area,” Sayer said, adding it will “save money, promote better outcomes.”

Inside and outside the new health center

The goal for the project is that the dental center, currently in Turners Falls, will move in and be in operation come November. There will be an increase in total patient rooms for dental, from five to seven — plus all new equipment, Sayer said.

Meanwhile, the goal for the outside of the building is to revitalize the 1930s facade of the old Sears and Roebuck storefront. This may be assisted by tax credits from the state, which Goodwin said they are in the running for. Regardless, the facade is still expected to return to its original look.

In the back of the building, where the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office is located off Conway Street, the developers plan to fix up the parking lot.

“Being a part of the downtown Greenfield redevelopment and restoration is a significant part of this,” Sayer said.

The two organizations are expecting to host at least 100 employees when the building fully opens in 2018. Both the CHD and the CHC will be hiring to fill new positions, although it’s not clear now as to how many.

An early estimate by the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers along with Capital Link Inc. estimated the economic impact the health center will have at $11 million annually. That estimate came when the center believed it would house about 75 to 80 employees. Part of the economic impact is calculated by the effect of foot traffic by the staff to local merchants.

Inside the health center, there will be a long entry way and waiting room with around 50 seats. The first floor will house all three main components: primary medical care, some behavioral care services and the dental services. The second floor will be exclusively for behavioral care. The basement will have a conference room, kitchen that will be good for various cooking demonstrations, a staff lounge and exercise equipment for patients. There will also potentially be available space for rent.

In total, the new Greenfield Center for Wellness will have about 33,000 square feet of space, plus an additional 5,000 square feet for storage.

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264