- Massachusetts regulators have given the go-ahead to Mass General Brigham to begin an approval process for construction of a $1.9 billion tower at Massachusetts General Hospital and $150 million expansion at Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital in Boston. The state's Public Health Council signed off on applications for both projects based on a determination of need, a spokesperson for the council said Friday in an emailed statement.
- Some conditions were placed on the projects, though, including a hold on 94 new beds at Mass General Hospital. And Mass General Brigham still must apply for building and licensing approvals from the state's Department of Public Health before any construction can start, the spokesperson said.
- The expansions are a scaled-back version of the hospital system's initial plans, which had included three new ambulatory surgery centers outside of Boston at an estimated cost of nearly $224 million.
Healthcare capital projects in Massachusetts must demonstrate a need for the expenditure as well as changes in service. When Mass General Brigham first proposed its projects, the state's Health Policy Commission warned that the plan could draw patients away from other, less expensive providers to the higher-cost MGB system, potentially driving up healthcare spending.
Mass General Brigham, the dominant health system in Massachusetts, has some of the highest hospital and physician prices in the state, the commission found in an analysis released earlier this year. The nonprofit's level of spending could prevent the state from meeting its targets for containing healthcare cost growth, the regulators said.
As a result, Mass General Brigham must submit a performance improvement plan, the first the commission has ever required, that identifies the causes of its spending growth, sets a savings goal and outlines how it will achieve the target.
After objections were raised to the surgery center plan, which would have added four operating rooms and imaging services each at Westborough, Westwood and Woburn, along with physician services at two of the locations. Mass General Brigham last month withdrew that application.
The two remaining projects given the green light last week can now take the next steps in the approval process, with conditions.
Mass General Brigham sought to add 482 medical/surgical and ICU beds at the tower at Mass General Hospital, replacing 388 existing semi-private beds, for a net gain of 94 beds. Plans also called for 23 new operating rooms, seven new imaging units, and relocated and expanded cardiology and oncology services.
DPH rejected the 94-bed expansion and a PET/MR system, but said Mass General can return with an amended request after implementing the other beds and a current PET/MR not yet in service, if the hospital can demonstrate patient need for those additions. Conditions related to patient flow and use of the services by existing patients also were placed on the project.
At Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital, DPH recommended approval of a five-story addition to the existing facility that will contain 78 new medical/surgical beds, an eight-bed observation unit, relocated and expanded endoscopy services, an MRI and other renovations. The hospital must ensure use by existing patients and improve patient flow and emergency department boarding.