Here’s what we know about Mass. General Hospital’s planned $1 billion project

"If this region wants a world-class academic medical center like MGH, we have to renew our campus and keep it modern and terrific for our patients."

A rendering of the new building project proposed by Massachusetts General Hospital.
A rendering of the new building project proposed by Massachusetts General Hospital. –Courtesy of Massachusetts General Hospital

Among the oldest medical institutions in the country, Massachusetts General Hospital is gearing up for a major, over $1 billion project aimed at boosting its campus to make certain its services remain top-notch for years to come.

Hospital representatives recently submitted initial plans to the city for a new, 12-story, two-tower facility for inpatient and outpatient care on Cambridge Street that they say is needed to modernize their practice, including a focus on providing more private bedrooms for patients.

“While many leading academic medical centers across the country have built state-of-the-art clinical buildings with all single patient rooms to enhance the care experience, the MGH currently lags behind its national peer institutions in its ability to offer all patients accommodations with adequate space and privacy,” Sally Mason Boemer, senior vice president of administration and finance, wrote in a Letter of Intent to city officials.

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Here’s what we know about the project so far:

A new clinical facility with over 1,000,000 square feet of space and 450 new beds is proposed

In total, the clinical building is slated to have 450 beds in single rooms, along with a host of operating rooms, “ambulatory services, operational support and a cafe,” Boemer wrote.

Mass. General, owned by Partners HealthCare, intends for the 1,035,000-square-foot facility to house a cancer center and a heart center, as well as retail space on Cambridge Street, the letter indicates.

Plans call for erecting the structure on hospital-owned property that borders Blossom, Cambridge, Parkman, and North Grove streets, replacing the existing Parkman Street Garage and a hospital office building, among others, according to Boemer.

Plans also outline a proposed six-level garage beneath the building with 1,100 parking spaces — 327 more than what’s provided at the garage currently on the site.

“This new facility will be resilient, able to withstand major flooding and high winds, allowing it to serve as a critical resource for patients, staff and the community during a disaster,” hospital President Peter Slavin and Mass. General Physicians Organization CEO Timothy Ferris wrote in an email to staff. “Also, the new building will benefit the immediate neighborhood by enhancing and enlivening Cambridge Street as an important gateway into Boston.

“And through a new state program associated with major construction projects, our building will provide meaningful resources to partner with local communities to develop solutions to challenging community health problems,” they added.

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Inpatient beds will make up the top six floors in each of the two towers, according to officials. Exam rooms, imaging facilities, and infusion centers are also included in the project, plans show.

Additionally, a seven-story “Campus Services Building” is proposed to rise at 30 Blossom St., according to plans, which indicate the new structure would replace a utilities building.

“The [Campus Services Building] will be approximately seven stories above grade … and will have two stories below grade with approximately 81,000 square feet of gross floor area, including 29,500 of administrative support,” Boemer wrote.

The proposal comes after the hospital completed a “comprehensive planning process focused on what it would take to modernize the MGH campus,” she said.

The Massachusetts General Hospital garage that will be torn down. —David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Outdated facilities make the project critical to Mass. General’s future, officials say

At the moment, Mass. General has over 1,000 beds, and they’re all almost always filled, The Boston Globe reports.

Furthermore, about a mere 38 percent of the rooms are private, putting the hospital behind others in Boston and across the country, according to representatives.

Patient rooms on some floors built in the 1940s are also still in use, according to the Globe. In those rooms, patients pair up, with a curtain separating their beds.

“If this region wants a world-class academic medical center like MGH, we have to renew our campus and keep it modern and terrific for our patients and competitive not only with local competition but the national competition as well,” Slavin told the newspaper.

In their email, Slavin and Ferris wrote that current demand for cancer and heart treatment played a role in shaping plans for the new facility.

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“Designated inpatient beds for thoracic surgery, vascular surgery and general medicine may also be incorporated within the structure,” the letter reads. “Moving several large services to the new facility will free up space in existing buildings, creating an opportunity to expand programs to address specific needs, such as increasing the number of behavioral health inpatient beds for adults, creating a pediatric behavioral health inpatient unit, and expanding the substance use disorder program.”

The hospital representatives anticipate the expansion will allow Mass. General to take in 100 to 200 more patients than it currently serves, according to the Globe.

“It’s important that our hospitals are making the improvements needed to keep Boston at the global forefront of health care,” Mayor Marty Walsh told the newspaper in a statement. “We look forward to closely reviewing Mass. General Hospital’s proposal once it is filed and beginning the comprehensive public process with input from the community.”

Construction could take six years and generate 4,500 jobs

While the the hospital still needs approval from city and state agencies — a process expected to take 18 months — representatives say they’re aiming to start building in 2020, with the project wrapped up by late 2026.

Construction is slated to entail 4,500 jobs and generate new hospital positions once its completed, the Globe reports.

The hospital also estimates about 20 to 30 percent of the $1 billion-plus price tag will be covered by private donations, according to the newspaper.

Slavin told WBUR that Mass. General will be mindful about the impact of project expenses on patient care costs.

“We as an institution have come in below the state benchmark since those benchmarks were established,” he told the radio station. “We’re committed to doing it for the long term, so we’re not going to let this building drive up the cost of health care.”