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Updated: June 10, 2024 Editorial

Editorial: Huge healthcare investments

In early June, UMass Chan Medical School unveiled its long-awaited, $350-million New Education and Research Building in Worcester, constructed to be a hub of medical education, research, and health care. On the same campus just about a block away, UMass Memorial Health is expanding its acute care footprint with the $125-million renovation of the former Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center into a state-of-the-art facility with 72 beds, which will bring the total number of beds close to 900.

These significant investments in healthcare and research facilities will have far-reaching impacts in the Central Massachusetts community for years to come. UMass Chan is already a giant when it comes to research hubs, studying a wide variety of diseases and treatments and spinning off startup companies aimed at commercializing that research. In fiscal 2023, the school received 353 grants from the National Institutes of Health alone, totalling $179 million. With the construction of its newest building, UMass Chan will not only enhance its work around treatments for diseases like Alzheimer’s and bird flu, but it will be a hub for the life sciences industry with new amenities like the Mass Spectrometry Facility. Younger companies in the region without the deep pockets of the more established players will have access to the facility, which will help bring their own research closer to commercialization, as WBJ Staff Writer Mica Kanner-Mascolo points out in her “Breaking new ground”.

UMass Memorial’s new North Pavilion – as the Beaumont renovation is called – is a direct response to the rising need for more hospital beds in Central Massachusetts. Worcester County has a growing population and already has the least number of hospital beds per capita of all the counties in Massachusetts, so an expansion of the acute-care system is very necessary, Justin Precourt, interim president of UMass Memorial Medical Center, says in the “Breaking new ground” story. The beds at the North Pavilion will have new technologies like interactive televisions, which will help better coordinate care and patient communication, as well as facilitate telehealth visits, which have become a growing staple of the healthcare delivery system.

Health care is already the largest industry in Central Massachusetts when ranked by employment, and bioresearch – and really the entire life sciences sector – is the target industry economic development officials are looking to attract. The healthcare system here and throughout the country is still in the midst of multiple crises with employee burnout, shaky finances, and layers of bureaucracy impeding healthcare delivery. While neither of these new facilities will solve the industry’s problems, they will go a long way to making each organization more efficient and positioned for growth.The combined half a billion dollars being invested in the two new facilities are solid steps in the right direction and further strengthen Central Massachusetts as a center of excellence in the healthcare sector.

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