Backed by donations, Baystate’s new family medicine dept. on track for fall construction

  • Greenfield Cooperative Bank President Anthony Worden says the bank is “proud to support Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s new program, which will not only meet the basic health care needs of our communities, but also train new primary care physicians.” The bank donated $75,000 to support Baystate Franklin’s new Department of Family Medicine. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Parts of Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s medical building at 48 Sanderson St. in Greenfield will house a residency program for doctors who want to become family practitioners. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/28/2021 5:18:22 PM

GREENFIELD — Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s new Department of Family Medicine is on track to begin construction later this fall, an effort now backed by a $75,000 donation from Greenfield Cooperative Bank.

“Despite COVID, we’re so thrilled that with the support of everybody in the community, everything is continuing to move forward on our original timeframe,” said Dr. Robert Baldor, founding chair and professor for the University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate Department of Family Medicine. “We’re so thrilled about this.”

Baystate Franklin announced last year it was creating a family medicine center that will offer a residency program by mid-2022 to doctors who want to train in family medicine. Its 48 Sanderson St. facility currently has a family medical practice on the first floor.

“Our board of directors was very excited to hear about this innovative program that will improve health care for all ages from infants into old age,” Greenfield Cooperative Bank President Anthony Worden said in a Baystate press release. “(Greenfield Cooperative Bank) believes in the importance of readily accessible primary care for everyone in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. We are very proud to support Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s new program, which will not only meet the basic health care needs of our communities, but also train new primary care physicians. We see this project as having a real impact on the health of our entire community.”

The $75,000 donation is among $230,000 that has been donated in support of the hospital’s $4.2 million investment in creating a state-of-the-art clinical/teaching facility at 48 Sanderson St.

Additionally, two education grants from the federal government will support medical education at 48 Sanderson St. One of the grants is a $750,000 Health Resources & Services Administration grant that will assist with the family medicine residency development, while the other, an Area Health Education Center grant for $100,000, supported medical student experiences.

Renovations on the second floor, which are slated to begin just after Thanksgiving, will create a new teaching space, as well as offices for the residents and faculty, Baldor said. Those renovations are expected to be complete by spring 2022, in time for the first round of interns to arrive.

Renovations on the first floor, where the family medical practice is currently located, are slated to begin a year from now and will be completed in fall 2023.

Baldor previously said four residencies a year will be offered to start, so over the first three years it will grow to 12 participants enrolled.

“In just about a month, we’ll be starting our virtual interviewing process for those students, and we’ll be doing that through December,” he said.

Young physicians — either medical doctors or doctors of osteopathic medicine — will be admitted into the program. Those people will have completed four years of medical school and be ready to do a residency, which is required to be licensed.

Baldor said Greenfield Cooperative Bank’s donation points to the community’s support for the program, as well as its understanding of the need.

“Everybody needs a primary doctor, a primary care provider,” he said. “This is wonderful support for moving the program forward.”

Baldor said that while there is a primary care provider shortage throughout the United States, it’s particularly an issue in Franklin County.

“If you look at Massachusetts itself, Franklin County stands out as being an underserved area,” he said. “Most primary care doctors have retired or are retiring, and it’s really hard to recruit new primary care positions to rural areas, like Greenfield.”

This training program, he said, will not only draw in new faculty, but it will also likely result in young doctors remaining in the area after their three-year residency.

“If you look at other areas in the country where programs like this have been put in place in smaller communities … it just attracts a lot more learners to the area and they tend to stay,” Baldor said. “They’ll stay in the greater Franklin County area.”

He added that the program is “a commitment to supporting Baystate Franklin Medical Center as a full-service hospital.”

According to a Baystate press release, the Baystate Health Foundation hopes to raise at least $750,000 from community partners over the next year.

Baldor noted that medical staff at Baystate Franklin have contributed $25,000 toward the family medicine center — a testament to how excited staff are about the training program, he said.

Ron Bryant, president of Baystate Franklin, said in the press release that the new Department of Family Medicine will be key to the hospital’s future.

“On behalf of our entire team and the patients we serve throughout our region,” he said, “we thank Greenfield Cooperative Bank for helping us create a program that not only will help provide much-needed health care services, but will be a real pride point for our entire community.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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