Freedom Credit Union backs Baystate’s new family medicine dept. with $15K

  • 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. The program is expected to begin by mid-2022. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Freedom Credit Union on Main Street in Greenfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 11/18/2021 2:20:45 PM

GREENFIELD — Freedom Credit Union has committed $15,000 over five years to support a new family medicine program at Baystate Franklin Medical Center.

“We care not just about the financial health of our members and community, but also about their overall health,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said in a press release. “Franklin County is an underserved area when it comes to primary health care and many of the local providers are older and close to retirement. We are happy to help attract new physicians to our area through this endeavor.”

Baystate Franklin announced last year it was developing 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.

Dr. Robert Baldor, founding chair and professor for the University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate Department of Family Medicine, previously said the training program 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.

“Historically, 85% of residents who train in family medicine residencies practice as primary care providers, and 39 percent of those physicians stay close to the community where they trained,” Baldor said in the release, noting that this marks the first Baystate Health academic department housed outside Springfield and the first accredited family medicine training program in the region. “We are thrilled that Freedom Credit Union is supporting this new program that will have a real and lasting impact on the health of our entire community.”

Freedom Credit Union’s $15,000 donation is among $245,700 that has been donated in support of the hospital’s $4.2 million investment in creating a state-of-the-art clinical/teaching facility, the release states.

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 and 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.

Baldor previously said 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. 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 one year from now and will be completed in fall 2023.

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

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.

“An endeavor such as this one requires the support of the entire community,” Welch said. “We are proud to join the ranks of other local donors — including the medical staff at Baystate Franklin who contributed $25,000 — in bringing this project to life, and we encourage others to do the same.”

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


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