Rebecca Kaiser, director of government and community relations for Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, shared an update on the project with the Charlestown Neighborhood Association at their Tuesday, Jan. 8 meeting.
“Construction is 99 percent complete,” Kaiser told the council. “We’re hopeful to have the temporary certificate of occupancy by this Friday and then the official certificate of occupancy by Jan. 18.”
The $220 million project involves construction of a new 300,000 sq. ft. medical facility at the corner of 16th Street and First Avenue in Charlestown. Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, part of the Partners HealthCare System, offers a range of in- and out-patient rehabilitation services. The new eight-story building will feature 132 private inpatient beds as well as public spaces such as a café, conference rooms, gift shop, chapel and pool, outpatient and support services and parking, according to the project website.
The building will replace the hospital’s 125 Nashua St., Boston site.
Kaiser said hospital employees are expected to begin training on the site by the end of January and that the hospital’s official opening is scheduled for late April.
Patients will be moved in around April 27, and grand opening events are scheduled for the weekend prior, April 19-21. An open house is slated April 21.
“We’re envisioning it as being a community open house and health fair—an opportunity to get some screenings, to learn more about some of the outpatient services that we offer, what is rehab and some of the different technology and resources that we have as well as learn about the available community space and what those reservation processes will look like,” Kaiser said.
In the mean time, hospital representatives plan to hold a community meeting to discuss some of the parking and transportation plans for the site.
Part of that plan involves a “parking swap” with Massachusetts General Hospital’s Building 199 garage in the Navy Yard. Currently, MGH employees park at the garage and take a shuttle to the hospital’s main campus in the West End.
“So when we leave our site at 125 Nashua St. in Boston, those MGH employees are interested and anxious to be able to park at our existing parking in the orange lot next to North Station and on our 125 Nashua St. property, which would then free up parking at Building 199 for our day shift employees to be able to park there,” Kaiser said.
In addition, the hospital is adding a “Spaulding express” shuttle to the existing Partners HealthCare shuttle service that picks up and drops off in the Navy Yard, Kaiser said.
“Those [shuttles] will run during the rush hour times from 6-9 in the morning and then in the evening from 3-6,” she said.
A job well done
Several Charlestown Neighborhood Council members commended Spaulding on their efforts to work with the community throughout the project.
“It’s important to note that we set a goal with you guys at the beginning of the process for 20 percent hiring of 02129 residents [during construction], and I know we haven’t looked at numbers in the last month or so but last time we looked at that there was a tremendous effort on your part and on the part of the contractor,” said Mark Rosenshein, chairman of the CNC’s Real Estate Project Development Committee.
He said Spaulding had exceeded what he expected from them.
“I think it was a tremendous effort to get local residents employed there,” Rosenshein said. “We did it successfully, and we are now pointing to you guys as a model and saying, if a project of that size and scale can do this, no project that comes to Charlestown can say ‘We can’t get this done.’”
Council chairman Tom Cunha said he was "not crazy about" the project when it first started but that he, too, had been impressed by Spaulding.
“This is one of the biggest buildings that we’ve had built in our community that is commercial space,” Cunha said. “The one thing I will say is that it was an open dialogue at all times, which really solved a lot of our concerns and issues. […] The standard’s been set of anybody who wants to build a big situation in our community. We’re going to be able to say, a nonprofit hospital built this under these circumstances, where the neighborhood had input on almost every layer of it.”
Kaiser said hospital representatives will continue meeting with Navy Yard residents and other key players, as they have been doing about monthly for the past three years.
When asked whether Spaulding would continue its effort to hire from Charlestown once the hospital is open, Kaiser said there won't be a lot of new hires at first. The current hospital has space for up to 196 beds and is being downsized somewhat to the 132-bed site in Charlestown. Some employees at the Nashua Street building will be relocated to other partner sites.
But she also said the hospital was open to developing a long-term strategy that takes into account local candidates, saying Spaulding is “100 percent committed” to working with the community.