“We started McLean SouthEast in 1999 as a 15-bed unit and have grown tremendously over the years in order to meet the needs of the Greater Boston community,” explained Longsjo. “Today, our Isaac Street location is proud to offer 34 inpatient adult beds, an adult partial hospital program, 22 adolescent residential beds, and an adolescent partial hospital program, plus other critical services like MCPAP (the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program). Adding the additional 68 beds at our new Oak Street location continues the tradition of growing our programs to better serve our community.”
Meeting the Needs of Our Patients
Recognizing that Massachusetts and the country were experiencing a mental health surge that would likely continue for months and years to come, McLean made the decision to purchase the Oak Street building in April with a goal to complete renovations, hire more than 200 staff, and be ready to open its doors by early fall. This was an extremely aggressive timeline, according to Michele L. Gougeon, MSS, MSc, executive vice president and chief operating officer, but one she says that teams from Facilities, Operations, and Clinical Operations were committed to accomplishing.
“We have conducted many construction projects over the years, but this was by far the most fast-paced and challenging,” said Gougeon. “In addition to having teams working non-stop to prepare the building for occupancy, Human Resources has been recruiting staff for all units. Information Systems has been setting up eCare systems and installing cables and phones. The clinical teams have been developing workflows, protocols, and most recently, conducting orientation for all new hires working at Oak Street.”
“The work done by Andy Healy, senior director of Facilities, and team was spectacular,” Gougeon added. “Staff from Belmont worked at Oak Street to assist in facility changes that were necessary in addition to the renovation work done by the contractor.”
Gougeon noted that virtually every administrative department at McLean has been deeply involved in ensuring that Oak Street was operational by September 20. While she and Interim Associate Chief Operating Officer Christine Tebaldi, PMHNP-BC, have been spearheading the logistical planning, more than 100 McLean staff from across campuses have been involved in the Oak Street project.
“The number of people who eagerly raised their hands and stepped up to help us open these programs is impressive,” said Tebaldi, who was directly responsible for overseeing the expansion of operations and infrastructure at Oak Street. “While this has been a time-intensive and stressful project, I have never been prouder of my colleagues, who have personified teamwork and who are ultimately responsible for us being able to welcome patients and families to this new site today.”
“Today we are opening our doors and caring for some of our state’s most vulnerable patients. Today is a good day and I could not be prouder of every person who made MSE at Oak Street a reality.”– Dr. Joseph Gold, Chief Medical Officer
The programs at Oak Street will have a ramp up period as staff become accustomed to the building and their individual programs. The child and adolescent unit will open initially with 10 beds, while there will be one blended adult unit with 15 beds.
“Having a strategy for opening these beds is critical as the staff learn procedures and get used to working with one another,” said Linda M. Flaherty, RN, PMHCNS-BC, senior vice president, Patient Care Services. “While we are excited to open all 68 beds over coming weeks, doing it gradually sets everyone up for greater success.”
Working Toward a Common Goal
While the primary focus for the last few months has been preparing the building and the staff for opening, with more than 100 beds between the two McLean SouthEast campuses, greater emphasis is being placed on operations and maintenance of the Oak Street and Isaac Street sites. Rich Silva, who has been at McLean SouthEast for more than 20 years, was recently appointed as the senior operations manager, overseeing all day-today logistics at both locations, while Rob Medeiros, has been hired as the facilities manager for both campuses.
“McLean SouthEast is vital to our community, and as it has grown, it became clear that having onsite leadership overseeing the day-to-day operations and maintaining the facilities was needed to ensure a high-quality experience for both patients and staff,” said Gougeon. “I am thrilled that Rich and Rob have taken on their respective roles and will work together with our clinical teams to ensure all needs are met.”
Joseph Gold, MD, chief medical officer, has been deeply invested in the project. He and Szulewski have collaborated on all fronts, from recruitment of providers, to advocating for greater reimbursement rates. After months of tirelessly working toward one common goal—to open programs—he noted how grateful he is to everyone involved.
“As we do so often, the McLean community—seasoned employees and those who are new to our hospital—have banded together to do what is right for the communities we serve,” said Gold. “It hasn’t been easy, and we have certainly had to overcome challenges, but we did it. And because of our ‘can do’ attitude, today, we are opening our doors and caring for some of our state’s most vulnerable patients. Today is a good day and I could not be prouder of every person who made MSE at Oak Street a reality.”