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Final beam of new VA clinic placed during UMass Medical School ceremony

Community-based outpatient clinic for veterans to open in fall 2021

By Colleen Locke and Bryan Goodchild

UMass Medical School Communications

October 08, 2020

Inscribed with dozens of veterans’ signatures, the final steel beam was placed atop the new community-based outpatient clinic (CBOC) for veterans under construction on the UMass Medical School campus in Worcester during a small topping off ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 7. This construction milestone means veterans will be on campus getting care by this time next year.

Scheduled to open in the fall of 2021, the CBOC is a collaboration between UMMS and the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System. Built on the site of the former Massachusetts Department of Transportation District 3 Headquarters, the 117,000-square foot, four-story building will replace the VA’s Lincoln Street facility. The VA clinic will occupy the first two floors, with 65 exam, consultation and procedure rooms designed for patient-aligned care teams.

Chancellor Michael F. Collins signed the beam before it was hoisted into the air, as did Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medical Education, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine, and Anne Larkin, MD, FACS, associate professor of surgery and senior associate dean for educational affairs.

“As the state’s public medical school, we have a special mission and responsibility to look after our area veterans, and our engagement with the VA of Central and Western Massachusetts reaffirms the historic ties that exist all across the country between state medical schools and their local VA systems. We’re so proud to continue that tradition and add new meaning to it,” Chancellor Collins said.

Most of the clinic will be devoted to primary and mental health care, with some specialty care, including radiology and echocardiology, and physical and occupational therapy. The clinic will also have a clinical lab and a pharmacy.

“This project is all about improving access to medical care for our veterans here in Central Massachusetts, in the Worcester area in particular,” Dean Flotte said. “We’re thrilled to be able to improve the access, and it’s a great connection for us as the state’s primary care medical school to be able to have this venue for our students and our residents to learn about the care of veterans. Veteran care will be critical for us going forward in the future and it’s also a critical part of our primary care mission.”

Because of COVID-19 concerns, only a small group from the Medical School and Suffolk Construction were able to take part in the ceremony. Local, state and federal leaders who would have attended recorded messages, which can be seen in the accompanying video. U.S. Rep. James McGovern was credited for championing the project as it made its way through Congress.

“This building is a testament to the dogged determination of so many people who wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer when it comes to supporting those who served our country. This brand-new facility is literally going to change lives for the better and make it easier for our veterans to get more of the care they need right here in Worcester instead of driving halfway across the state,” McGovern said in the video.

McGovern signed the beam on Tuesday, Oct. 6, along with Kristin Mattocks, PhD, MPH, professor of population & quantitative health sciences and associate dean for veterans affairs at UMMS, and Duane Gill, director of the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System.

“We are ecstatic to see this large-scale project with the UMass Medical School come to fruition,” Gill said. “We are looking forward to opening this state-of-the-art facility, which will greatly improve future delivery of care for veterans throughout New England and will strengthen our partnership with the Medical School.”

The building has been designed to meet LEED and Green Globes certification for energy efficiency and sustainable operation. The goal is to make it weather-tight by the end of the year. Programing for the third and fourth floors is not yet finalized.

Media coverage:
Worcester Business Journal: UMass Medical School reaches construction milestone with $75M VA facility
Worcester Telegram: Topping off VA clinic at UMass Medical School (photos)

Related stories on UMassMed News:
Steel rising as VA clinic is built at UMass Medical School
New VA outpatient clinic to be built on UMass Medical School campus in Worcester