Closer To Home Mary Lane Hospital Expands Belchertown Satellite Office To Offer More Services

When Mary Lane Hospital blueprinted its Belchertown satellite facility more than a decade ago, the idea was to bring a wide range of health care facilities closer to home, thus saving residents a trip to Ware or Springfield. 

The concept worked so well Mary Lane soon put plans on the table for a larger center featuring a more comprehensive suite of health care services. A series of expansion initiatives have been completed over the past several months, and the hospital is now aggressively marketing a facility that provides everything from lab tests to X-Rays.

The bulk of the expansion initiatives at the Sargeant Street facility were completed over the summer, and staff at the center plan to use the fall months to get the word out that the site has grown, and could be a great asset to the Belchertown and Amherst areas.

The expanded medical center, which offers a wide range of outpatient services including rapid care, which was added to the facility’s suite of services earlier this year, also began offering radiology services and expanded lab services this summer. The center has seen a steady flow of patients since the expansion, and expects to gradually accommodate more patients living or working in the Belchertown area, according to Glenn Surprenant, manager of laboratory and radiology services for Mary Lane Hospital.

“Our new center features a computer-based radiography system, in that we can take the film and transmit it electronically back to Mary Lane Hospital to have it read by a radiologist,” he explained, adding that the new system will allow for the diagnosis of fractures, breaks, and sprains, as well as for X-rays of the chest and head.

Similarly, the recent addition of rapid care services at the center allows physicians to treat people experiencing medical issues such as cold and cough, flu symptoms, allergic reactions, and other problems without traveling long distances to emergency rooms at Mary Lane Hospital, in Ware, or to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. Patients can walk-in for treatment, and appointments are not necessary.

A New Outlook

The new services were accompanied by a major expansion and renovation of the building, designed to improve patient access. In addition to the new Rapid Care Clinic, physician specialists in OB/GYN, surgery, gastroenterology, and nephrology will all see patients at the facility.

Construction began last year to accommodate the expanded services, which, in addition to the rapid care and radiology,also include laboratory services, which are also offered on a walk-in, no appointment basis (all specimens are sent to the laboratory at Mary Lane Hospital for analysis).

Lorri Horton, practice manager at the Sargent Street facility, said the expanded services at the Belchertown site are part of a greater push within Baystate Health System to bring health care to the many communities of Western Mass., rather than have the residents of those communities travel to find that care.

“These additions to the care spectrum will increase health care services to this area, where Baystate Health knew there was a need for expanded services,” she said.

Both the radiology and rapid care facilities as well as the new lab services — which allow people to have blood drawn at more convenient times for diagnostic reasons, for example — have been tailored to residents of Belchertown and the surrounding towns, as well as those who work in the area, in order to provide the most accessible care.

“A lot of people drive farther than they actually need to,” said Horton. “This is part of an ongoing effort to increase care for people in all areas, especially rural areas. We hope the expanded services that are available now at the Belchertown site will add convenience to people’s lives.”

In addition, hours at the center cater to people’s busy lives. Horton explained that patients can now visit the facility on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings for a variety of services, and physician staffing patterns revolve around what administrators project will be busier times for the site, including drive times before and after normal work hours during the week.

“A number of physician specialists in OB/GYN, surgery, gastronenterology, and nephrology, for instance, are seeing patients at the facility,” said Horton.

And services continue to expand to meet the varied needs of patients. Pediatric services are now being added, for example, and orthopedic services are growing.

Horton added that she hopes the new services will attract a new set of patients from surrounding towns including the Greater Amherst area. A marketing push is currently underway to get the word out about Mary Lane’s services at the Sargent Street facility. In addition to open houses and other events meant to introduce the new services to the community, Mary Lane Hospital is also partnering with the Quaboag Valley Chamber of Commerce, several businesses in the Belchertown area, and Belchertown Medical Associates to publicize the center’s new offerings.

A direct mail campaign has also been launched to invite area residents to take advantage of those services, Horton said.

To Your Health…

“One of the biggest pieces is attracting people who would normally go to the ER with problems, but can now be treated much closer to home,” she told The Healthcare News, repeating the theme of community health care.

“Bringing care to people improves the overall quality of life,” she said, “and in the next few months we’re going to being working very hard to get the word out that this is what we’re trying to do.” v

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