Lowell General Hospital To Open Urgent Care Centers In Dracut And Tewksbury
Sep 08, 2017 06:33PM
By Bill Gilman
Lowell General Hospital officials, along with state and local officials, break ground earlier this year on the planned Circle Health facility on Loon Hill Road in Dracut.
Lower costs, easier patient access and more appropriate levels of care are the impetus behind two new outpatient medical facilities being opened by Lowell General Hospital in Dracut and Tewksbury.
According to hospital executives, Circle Health Dracut is scheduled to open its doors in August 2018, while Circle Health Tewksbury is targeted for a January 2019 opening.
These will the third and fourth Circle Health facilities opened in suburban communities in recent years. Circle Health Westford opened in 2014 and the Billerica location opened earlier this year. Those two facilities have already had an impact in addressing overcrowding and long wait times in the LGH emergency department.
"It's important to decompress the emergency department," said Amy Hoey, Lowell General's chief operating officer. "We see 100,000 patients a year in the emergency departments. That's about 60,000 a year at the main campus and 40,000 a year at Saints (Memorial campus). We had been seeing annual increases, but now it has leveled off.
"Both Westford and Billerica have really exceeded expectations," she said.
Like Westford and Billerica, the Tewksbury and Dracut Circle Health locations will provide "urgent care" services, a step down from an ER. Urgent care facilities tend to treat non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses, allowing the emergency departments to focus their attention on more acute medical crises.
Having an urgent care facility near where they live, should also encourage patients to seek the treatment they need in a timely fashion, before a condition becomes more serious.
"We want to be able to provide convenient access for patients and their families," said Hoey. "There is also a goal to lower costs and provide more appropriate care for (each patient)."
Another benefit for patients comes in the form of better overall communication. According to Hoey, the Circle Health facilities, Lowell General Hospital, LGH-Saints and all affiliated physicians have access to a shared medical records system. As a result, test result, treatments, x-rays and other medical information are made available immediately to all of a patient's treatment providers.
LGH has signed a 15-year lease for Circle Health Dracut to occupy a $9 million 27,000-square foot, three-story building being constructed on Loon Hill Rood, near the intersection of Broadway and immediately adjacent to The Arbors - Dracut assisted living facility, which opened earlier this summer.
According to town records, the property is presently owned by Broadloon Nominee Trust of Dracut.
In addition to Circle Health Urgent Care, the building will be home to a Lowell General Hospital patient service center, primary care and OB/GYN physician practices, and the relocated LGH diabetes and endocrinology specialty services.
According to Hoey, the new facility will have 45-50 employees.
LGH also signed a 15-year lease for Circle Health Tewksbury to occupy a facility to be constructed at the corner of Main Street (Route 38) and Victor Drive. The facility will be 13,000-square feet and will have 25-30 employees. In addition to the urgent care center, it will house primary care medical offices, as well as a patient service center.
According to town records, the property is presently owned by local developer Marc Ginsburg.
In addition to being in communities with desirable demographics, the two new facilities are being built in highly visible, easily accessible locations. According to LGH Vice President of Revenue Services Bill Wyman, the hospital has been made to feel welcomed in both Dracut and Tewksbury and have enjoyed a cooperative working relationship with local officials, including town managers Jim Duggan of Dracut and Richard Montuori of Tewksbury.
"Both Tewksbury and Dracut have been phenomenal," said Wyman. "Both have been great about looking at (funding sources) to improve infrastructure."
As part of its effort to develop the Broadway/Loon Hill Road area, Dracut has received a $2.5 million state grant to make improvements to the adjacent intersection and sidewalks.
Similarly, Tewksbury has received funding from the State Highway Department to make improvements to the intersection of Main Street and Victor Drive. This will be part of a larger effort repave and improve the entire seven-mile Route 38 corridor from the Lowell line to the Wilmington line.