North Shore Medical Center employs 4,500 people across its two campuses, its outpatient sites and physician offices, said spokeswoman Laura Fleming.
Under the plan, Union Hospital will retain its emergency department. Salem’s emergency department already receives the most ill patients in the Lynn and Salem service areas, Norton said.
“I think better access for everyone is probably what I would highlight as the most important aspect,” Norton said of the changes at both hospitals, which come amid changes nationwide to the health care delivery system and the need to do as much as possible with health care dollars, he said.
The hospitals are just 5.8 miles apart and offer duplicate services, such as intensive care units, operating rooms and psychiatric services, that Norton said belong at one hospital or the other — not at both.
“It’s increasingly difficult to maintain that duplication on two campuses so close together,” Norton said. “A piece of this decision is driven by our desire to make sure everybody we treat has access to the widest range of specialists with the right level of specialty expertise and training, and it is increasingly difficult to maintain all of those areas of specialization on two campuses this way.”
Massachusetts General Hospital will run Union Hospital’s psychiatry and behavioral health services, while North Shore Medical Center and North Shore Physicians Group will operate Union Hospital’s emergency department, primary care, urgent care, labs, radiology and other services most patients use, Fleming said.
Union Hospital could see an investment of about $40 million to create the psychiatric and behavioral health center of excellence and an office expansion, and Lynn Community and North Shore Community health centers will also get money for expansion projects.
Rather than putting an emphasis on bricks and mortar, however, Norton focused on how both hospitals will provide care in the coming years based on a more modern model of treatment that shies away from overnight stays to one in which primary care doctors or specialists care for patients in an outpatient setting.