Selectmen view site plan for proposed Mass General Brigham medical center

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By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer

A car passes the Westborough Office Park off Route 9 where Mass General Brigham is eyeing building a new outpatient clinic. (Photo by/Dakota Antelman)

WESTBOROUGH – Selectmen spent part of their April 27 meeting reviewing the site plan for an outpatient medical facility proposed by Mass General Brigham’s Integrated Health Care.

The proposed three-story outpatient center on 9.4 acres of land will feature day surgery, primary care, behavioral health, orthopedics, neurology, diagnostic imaging and other specialty care. 

The plan showed 315 parking spaces as well as outdoor amenity spaces and walking trails for patients and staff. It also displayed landscaping that includes a mixture of trees, grasses, shrubs, perennials and groundcovers.

MGB Integrated Health Care President John Fernandez noted that, most importantly, the facility would offer “less fragmented, more coordinated care” at a lower cost than hospital settings. He noted that Mass General Brigham currently serves 40,000 patients from the Westborough area. 

The project will also boost the economy, Fernandez said, providing 300 construction and 180 healthcare jobs.

A pilot agreement in lieu of taxes is being negotiated, he added.

Board members’ questions focused mainly on three areas: walking trails, food services and emergency vehicle access.

Selectman Ian Johnson asked if the trails are just for use on the property or whether they would be linked to other trails.

Howard Moshier, director of land engineering for planning and design firm VHB, noted that the intent was more of an on-site system. He explained there would be an interruption with MGB’s driveway and no direct connection with larger trails.

Selectman Shelby Marshall responded that she would be interested in seeing connectivity with Westborough’s greater trail system.

She also asked about food services at the site and said she was surprised if there are only vending machines to accommodate family members with patients having day surgeries, for example.

Marshall suggested they consider using food trucks. 

“I’ll just throw that out there as an idea. That might be a limitation in the design,” she said.

MGB Senior Project Manager David Burson clarified the main lobby would have a “grab-and- go” type setup with sandwiches, but the facility would not have a full-service cafeteria.

Selectmen Chairman Allen Edinberg asked if an analysis was done on how often the town’s emergency services would be called upon to transport patients to the hospital. He noted that sometimes people go to their doctor’s office when their illness requires them to visit the ER.

A designated space has been designed in the rear of the building for that purpose. Developers have also worked with the fire department to ensure that fire vehicles can make the necessary turns.

Fernandez said that the timeline has construction occurring from August 2021 to December 2022 and the facility opening to patients in February 2023. He said that time frame coincided with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health process the project must go through.

Locally, the next step involves presenting the site plan to the Westborough Planning Board on Tuesday, May 4.