SPRINGFIELD — “Today is great day for Baystate Health, for MassMutual and for the people of Greater Springfield,” Baystate Health President and CEO Dr. Mark Keroack said at the May 21 announcement of a planned 90,000-square-foot Community Health Center in Springfield, the land on State Street donated by MassMutual.

Alongside Keroack, the City Hall announcement was made by Roger Crandall, chairman, president and chief executive officer of MassMutual.

“We’re very pleased to announce today that we’re donating approximately 10 acres of land on our Springfield campus for the construction of this new community health center,” Crandall said.

MassMutual will also be providing financing as well as a $5 million grant from the MassMutual Foundation to assist with the progression of the project.

Crandall explained that when an opportunity came to work with Bay State to build a new community health center, the answer came naturally.

“As time moves on, things change,” Crandall said. “We had buildings filled with paper on State Street and guess what, we’re not using that much paper anymore. So, we’ve had these empty buildings and we’re thinking, what do we do with the buildings, we’ve got 100 acres and we frankly don’t need all the hundred acres.”

He said estimates predict state-of-the-art healthcare assistance for 145,000 people annually from the new center.

Keroack spoke of the long search undertaken by Bay State and community partners to identify a site to build a new community health center to focus on alleviating the issues brought on by older, crowded facilities in the area.

“Over the last few years, we’ve looked at several sites but none was able to meet our needs,” he said, explaining a conversation with Crandall two years ago ultimately helped lead to the site of the new center. “What came out of this vision is the largest philanthropic gift in the history of Bay State Health, directly benefiting the most vulnerable patients we serve.”

Design plans for the 90,000-square-foot center have not been finalized, but Keroack said the facility will become home to the adult and pediatric practices at the High Street Health Center as well as well as those practices currently at the Mason Square center and the Wesson Women’s Clinic on Chestnut Street. The new center will provide access by public transportation, free parking and easy access.

The design will also allow for expansion up to 150,000 patients visits a year with an eye toward providing community space and the ability to move social services closer to where the needs are.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) said Baystate Health and Mass Mutual are reinforcing their commitment to the city while the plans reinforce an idea about stability in a very tumultuous time.

“This is a terrific announcement for the Springfield community, one that will greatly benefit the Pioneer Valley for years to come,” he said.

Calling it, “Better and accessible health care,” Mayor Domenic Sarno applauded the announcement, noting the overwhelming current healthcare needs of the community.

The expected cost for the project, which will be owned and operated by Baystate Health is $45-$50 million.

“This to me is really what Springfield is all about, Crandall said. “It’s about good neighbors.”

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