McLean SouthEast Increases Offerings in Response to Pandemic’s Toll

August 1, 2022

The toll of the pandemic on the physical well-being of Massachusetts residents is a topic of daily news and conversation. The expansion of McLean SouthEast with an additional 68-bed inpatient facility for children, adolescents, and adults demonstrates a response to the less well-publicized yet powerful impact of COVID-19 on behavioral health.

The new facility at Oak Street in Middleborough reflects “a need, within our system and across the state, for an increase in acute care psychiatric beds,” said Christine Tebaldi, PMHNP-BC, interim associate chief operating officer, who had a lead role in the expansion project.

“The location was a nice match for McLean since we already had our very vibrant and well-respected McLean SouthEast programs operating just about a mile away.”

McLean SouthEast at Isaac Street opened in 1999 and has continually expanded its services to meet the needs of the community.

Today it offers 34 inpatient adult beds, an adult partial hospital program, 22 adolescent residential beds, and an adolescent partial hospital program, plus other critical services like the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program.

Despite its growth, there continued to be more demand than available services, so in 2021, McLean developed a plan to open a second McLean SouthEast, located at nearby Oak Street.

The new facility at Oak Street offers a 22-bed depression and anxiety-focused unit for adults, a 24-bed adult unit focused on caring for those individuals with thought disorders or psychotic disorders, and a 22-bed unit for adolescents.

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

“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. Oak Street will help reduce the backlog of patients boarded in emergency rooms and get them the care they need more quickly.”

Opening Oak Street was a whirlwind effort that involved staff from across the administrative and clinical departments of McLean and Mass General Brigham.

From an operations perspective, key departments included, but were not limited to, human resources, finance, facilities, information systems, telecommunications, materials management, and security. It also required building and staffing a pharmacy and engaging with internal medicine providers as well as food service and building service vendors.

At the same time, clinical leaders worked on recruiting and training new staff. In all, once it is fully staffed, Oak Street will have 210 full- and part-time positions.

Training new staff was made more challenging due to the active renovation of the new site. That required the assistance of staff on the Belmont campus, Isaac Street, and the Arlington child and adolescent campus to host new orientees.

“We conducted countless meetings about quality care protocols, inclusive of determining important issues such as documentation workflows and the patient experience when arriving at the facility. And we did all this while managing the ongoing COVID-19 challenges,” explained Tebaldi.

McLean Southeast At-a-Glance

McLean SouthEast has two campuses—Isaac Street and Oak Street—approximately one mile away from one another.

Combined, Isaac Street and Oak Street have:

  • 3 adult inpatient units
  • 1 adolescent residential program
  • 1 adolescent inpatient unit
  • 1 Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program (MCPAP) Hub

More than 200 staff were hired as part of the Oak Street expansion.

Last but not least was the regulatory side of standing up a new facility—applying to the Department of Mental Health and Department of Public Health. Adding 68 new beds required licensing visits and surveys as well as extensive documentation surrounding life safety and environment of care standards—again, in a building undergoing renovations and hosting training.

Finally, the realities of the outside world entered.

“Supply chain,” Tebaldi said, referring to the worldwide slowdown in shipments, whether it was microchips or construction materials.

In effect, the April-to-September dash was equivalent to assembling a jigsaw puzzle, one that required the assistance of the whole McLean community.

“To my knowledge, we’ve never done anything at this pace or this scale before. There were many stakeholders across the entire hospital that really made this possible by supporting training and being critical to maintaining operations, despite key resources being dispatched to this very intense and busy undertaking,” said Tebaldi.

“This is something for the entire McLean community to be proud of,” said Tebaldi.

Generous philanthropic support from the Yawkey Foundation and from private donors contributed to the Oak Street expansion.

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