McLean Hospital Opens Three New Inpatient Programs in Southeastern Massachusetts

September 20, 2021

Today, McLean Hospital made a major step toward helping to alleviate the mental health crisis in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with the soft opening of McLean SouthEast (MSE) at Oak Street, a new 68 inpatient bed facility located in Middleborough, Massachusetts. MSE at Oak Street is a complement to the original MSE, located less than a mile away at Isaac Street in Middleborough.

“Opening these new beds is in direct response to the overwhelming demand for mental health services that we are seeing throughout the state,” said Scott L. Rauch, MD, president and psychiatrist in chief for McLean.

“Each day, our emergency rooms across Mass General Brigham and beyond are filled with individuals who are in crisis and in need of acute psychiatric care. But with limited beds available, the wait to get essential psychiatric services can be long. MSE at Oak Street will help reduce the backlog of patients boarded in emergency rooms and get them the care they need more quickly.”

Located on the grounds of a former psychiatric hospital, MSE at Oak Street has three inpatient programs:

  • A 22-bed depression and anxiety unit for adults
  • A 24-bed psychotic disorders unit for adults
  • A 22-bed adolescent unit (treating ages 13-18)

In addition, MSE at Oak Street also has its own admissions department, though patients will still be triaged via McLean’s intake department on the Belmont campus. The adolescent unit will take direct admissions.

“Making admissions as safe and convenient for patients and families has been a top tier goal for us,” said Susan Szulewski, MD, MBA, associate chief medical officer and developer of the MSE admissions workflow. “Our intake staff are the front door of MSE at Oak Street and our priority is to create a welcoming and safe environment for all who seek our services.”

According to Mark Longsjo, LICSW, who was recently appointed as senior director of MSE to oversee adult clinical care at the Isaac and Oak Street locations, MSE has a longstanding tradition of expanding to meet the needs of patients and families in southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and the Islands.

Patient and clinician talk
MSE at Oak Street offers intensive support for those struggling to manager their mental health

“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.”

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