Baystate’s mental health unit in Greenfield to remain open

BOSTON (SHNS) – Nurses and others who have campaigned for years to keep a mental health unit open in Greenfield are claiming victory after Baystate Health announced plans to open a new facility in Holyoke this summer and keep the Greenfield operation running.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association on Tuesday said the unit Baystate Franklin Medical Center employs about 60 people and offers care at a location that is close to the homes of the patients it serves.

On Monday, Baystate Health announced that it expects to complete construction of its Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital, a joint venture with Lifepoint Behavioral Health, by the end of June, and that the Holyoke facility is scheduled to open on Aug. 15. The $72 million, 150-bed facility is expected to increase capacity for inpatient behavioral health care for adults, children, and adolescents in the area by 50 percent, officials said.

Behavioral health services from Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer and Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield will begin to transition to the new hospital in August, and those facilities will be converted to primary and specialty care or used to accommodate demand for inpatient medical services, Baystate said.

However, tucked in the announcement about the Holyoke facility, Baystate indicated it plans to continue operating the Greenfield behavioral health unit. Ronald Bryant, president of Baystate Regional Hospitals, said the decision to keep the unit open “was made based on geography and Baystate Franklin’s strong history of integration of behavioral health services, such as the 24/7 presence of recovery coaches in the Emergency Department.”

The decision demonstrates “the power of collective action by caregivers and the community who have long advocated for keeping care local,” the union said.

“This decision proves that when we work together to keep care local, we can help our patients receive the quality care they deserve,” said Suzanne Love, a nurse in the Baystate Franklin Medical Center emergency department and MNA co-chair. “We are grateful that Baystate Health has maintained an open mind about keeping these mental health beds open and we are proud to have worked collaboratively to make sure our patients can receive appropriate care.”

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