Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and other officials held a groundbreaking at Norwood Hospital Tuesday, the ceremonial start of a two-year construction project to rebuild the facility from the ground up.
Town leaders have been anxious to get the hospital up and running again after severe flooding forced the facility to close last year, threatening delayed emergency care in the months since. The hospital's closure has put a strain on the town's ambulances, to the point that it's resorted to relying on its fire trucks more regularly to go out on EMS runs.
Baker called the groundbreaking "a really big day."
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"I just feel great for the fact that this community, which relied on this hospital for over 100 years, is going to be able to continue to rely on this hospital for many, many years to come," he said.
A torrential storm in June of 2020 caused major damage at Norwood Hospital. Surveillance footage captured water rushing through the walls and ripping a door off its hinges.
The new hospital will be built on its existing footprint, according to owner Steward Health Care, with the capacity to hold about 130 acute care beds. The buildout will help support more than 4,000 jobs as the first newly constructed hospital in the area in more than 25 years, serving about a quarter of a million people.
Steward Health Care estimated that the buildout will take about two years to complete, which includes three to six months of demolition.
Meanwhile, the hospital ownership has filed a federal lawsuit against its insurance company alleging that it has intentionally hindered their efforts to rebuild, according to reports.
More on Norwood Hospital
Norwood Town Manager Tony Mazzucco said the loss of the hospital has added about $250,000 in annual costs, which has strained resources.
Emergency crews have had to reroute to other hospitals in the area, going to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Needham or Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton.
"Doubling or tripling the transport time, our costs are going through the roof for police and fire as our vehicles have to travel further out, repairs maintenance and downtime," Mazzucco said.
Rep. Stephen Lynch, who represents the district in Congress, was among the other officials at the ceremony.