Hometown hospital: New downtown building does not mean vacant old ones to come

Published on Friday, 30 November 2018 22:15


BRISTOL - Bristol Hospital’s new downtown building will create a ripple effect of services being moved and shuffled around, but hospital officials say they have no plans of leaving a number of vacant buildings strewn around the city.

“We’re moving a lot of the chips around,” said Edward Henry, executive director of the Bristol Hospital Multi-Specialty Group. “But a vast majority of the spaces we occupy we’ll continue to occupy.”

The new building, which is slated to be completed in late spring, will take on the hospital’s services for cardiology, orthopedics, endocrinology, rheumatology, neurology and urology. Currently, cardiology is offered in a space on Pine Street; orthopedics is done in the hospital; endocrinology and rheumatology are offered at a building on North Street; neurology is offered on Bradley Street; and urology services are offered at the Medical Professional Building on Newell Road.

Bristol Hospital’s Medical Care Center, which was initially going to be called the Ambulatory Care Center, will also offer laboratory services and occupational and physical therapy services. Those will continue to be offered in the hospital and throughout the community, respectively.

“It’s a complete domino impact,” Henry said. “We will probably have a few spaces where we won’t renew the lease.”

Henry said the decisions on which buildings will continue to be used by the hospital have not yet been made, adding that things are always in flux and that a plan made on one day could change the next based on the community’s needs.

“We’re not going to abandon our properties,” Henry said. “We still believe that our practices need to be out in the community.”

Chris Boyle, hospital spokesman, noted that the hospital has a lot of primary care practices throughout the city.

“Primary care belongs in the community,” Henry said. “We will continue to keep it there.”

Hospital officials said the services that were selected to move into the new building, located at 15 Riverside Ave., were done so for a few reasons. Some made sense to have in the same place for physicians to communicate and function together, while others, like orthopedics, simply needs more space.

The three-story, 60,000-square-foot new facility is expected to employ more than 90 people. An estimate as to how many of those positions will be new jobs brought to the city is not yet available, but hospital officials said there is much more room for growth. When the building opens, between 60 to 70 percent of its space will initially be used.

“Thirty percent is for growth,” Henry said, adding that the facility will have the need in the future for more receptionists, physicians and medical assistants.

Since 2012, according to Boyle, the Bristol Hospital Multi-Specialty Group has doubled in doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. Looking ahead, there is also about 30,000 square feet of space to construct another building adjacent to the new medical center, but that is not something in the immediate pipeline.

“I think planning ahead, that’s a possibility,” Boyle said. “But there’s no immediate plans.”

A possible second hospital building isn’t the only growth the city is hoping will be sparked by the new medical facility.

“Communities don’t often have a ‘do over’ chance for their downtowns,” Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said. “Bristol does, and I want to make sure it is done in a thoughtful manner. We have two developers who have been exploring options on specific Centre Square locations for the last year. We have one who recently communicated with my office that they are talking to potential partners.”

“A brand new one reached out this week ….,” Zoppo-Sassu said, adding that she and other city officials planned to meet with the new prospect on Friday.

City officials also have plans to try to fill any vacancies left by the new medical building.

“We are welcoming to nearly all types of businesses that are going to provide appropriate products and/or services for which there is need in the community,” said Justin Malley, executive director of the Bristol Development Authority.

“For some - depending on their location, size, etc. - that may mean incentives such as grants or tax abatements,” Malley continued. “For others, it may mean assisting in their promotional efforts by utilizing our All Heart website and social media properties. For others, it may mean assisting in their employee recruitment efforts. The main point is that we hope potential businesses understand that we are here to assist them.”

“We continue to work on long-term leads but are not at a point where we can announce a major project,” Malley said. “And that’s how it works. Some deals materialize quickly, some happen slowly, and many others don’t happen at all for a number of reasons. For downtown we have created an interesting area in which developers have a flexible ‘menu’ of development incentives from which to choose.”

Since its construction was announced, Bristol Hospital’s Medical Care Center has created a lot of excitement around the community, particularly because the former mall site sat vacant for so long, Boyle believes. The new center will provide ample parking and shorter wait times in a “state-of-the-art, world-class” facility, which will allow Bristol Hospital to provide patients the care they need without having to leave Bristol, Henry said. It will also help the hospital in physician recruitment.

“I think it’s going to be a real shining star,” Henry said.

Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or jmuszynski@bristolpress.com.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, General Business on Friday, 30 November 2018 22:15. Updated: Friday, 30 November 2018 22:17.