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Worcester’s $475M Healthcare Boost: Two New Buildings to Transform Access and Quality!

Updated: Jun 26

Central Massachusetts healthcare providers are no strangers to the challenges plaguing the U.S. healthcare system: workforce shortages, burdensome paperwork, and staff burnout. In the midst of these struggles, Worcester is taking bold steps forward with two major new healthcare facilities aimed at addressing these long-standing issues.

Building a Healthier Future

UMass Chan Medical School has just unveiled its $350-million New Education and Research Building (NERB), a state-of-the-art facility designed to advance disease research. Just a block away, UMass Memorial Health is constructing a $125-million, 72-bed acute care facility, set to open in early 2024. Together, these facilities promise to significantly enhance healthcare quality and access for Central Massachusetts residents.

Pioneering Research at NERB

UMass Chan’s NERB, a nine-floor, 350,000-square-foot marvel, is poised to become a hub for groundbreaking disease research. Under the leadership of Chancellor Dr. Michael Collins, the NERB focuses on both rare and common diseases, aiming to improve lives worldwide. Home to over 70 principal investigators, the facility includes the Program in Molecular Medicine, the Senator Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center, and more. The building also features a new Mass Spectrometry Facility, which will collaborate with local biotech industries to drive innovation.

The Vision

To change the course of disease history is a tall order, but Dr. Michael Collins isn’t shying away from it. His vision for NERB is an environment where every department is laser-focused on both common and rare diseases, aiming to improve global health outcomes. This ethos is embedded in the very fabric of NERB's operations, with state-of-the-art laboratories and collaborative spaces designed to foster innovation.

State-of-the-Art Facilities

The NERB will house advanced research departments and facilities. These include the Program in Molecular Medicine, which will occupy three floors, and the new Mass Spectrometry Facility, set to become a critical resource for both campus researchers and local biotech companies. This facility will play a crucial role in identifying disease-related molecules for drug treatment, showcasing the power of cutting-edge technology in modern medicine.

Driving Innovation

The building stands as a testament to the potential of public institutions to drive significant advancements in healthcare. "The building is a great example of how the state's public university can drive innovation and investment," Collins said. This sentiment reflects the broader mission of UMass Chan to be at the forefront of medical research and education, ultimately benefiting patients not just in Central Massachusetts, but globally.

Enhancing Patient Care at North Pavilion

UMass Memorial’s North Pavilion will add 72 new hospital beds, addressing the critical shortage of acute care beds in Worcester County. This facility, covering 73,000 square feet, will feature advanced technology such as interactive televisions and electronic care team boards in every room. These innovations aim to improve patient education, streamline care coordination, and enhance the overall patient experience.

Meeting Immediate Needs

Worcester County is one of the few counties in Massachusetts with a growing population, yet it has the least number of acute care beds per capita. Interim President Justin Precourt of UMass Memorial Medical Center noted that this discrepancy was a major catalyst behind acquiring the building previously used by the Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in 2021. The North Pavilion is set to alleviate the acute care bed shortage and improve patient flow, especially in emergency departments where wait times can be extensive.

Advanced Patient Care

Each room in the North Pavilion will be equipped with interactive televisions providing educational content tailored to patients' diagnoses. This approach ensures patients have access to critical information throughout their hospital stay and after discharge. Additionally, electronic care team boards will update in real-time to display the current care team, improving communication and care continuity.

Telehealth Integration

In a forward-thinking move, North Pavilion will incorporate telehealth technology into patient rooms. This feature allows for comprehensive care planning and follow-up, potentially reducing unnecessary readmissions and emergency room visits. “The goal is to help prevent any readmissions back into the hospital or any unneeded, unnecessary emergency room visits,” Precourt explained.

Addressing Systemic Issues

While increasing hospital capacity is crucial, leaders like Amie Shei, President and CEO of The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, emphasize the need for a holistic approach to healthcare access. Systemic issues, such as social determinants of health, housing, and food security, must be addressed to ensure comprehensive care for all residents.

Holistic Healthcare Approach

Central Massachusetts faces multifaceted healthcare challenges that extend beyond hospital walls. Social determinants of health, including economic stability, education, and neighborhood environment, play a critical role in residents’ overall well-being. "We need to take a holistic approach to tackling the issue of access to care," Shei said. This comprehensive perspective is vital for addressing the root causes of health disparities.

Preventative Care

Focusing on prevention is essential for improving healthcare outcomes in Central Massachusetts. Delayed primary care often results in conditions worsening and becoming more expensive to treat in emergency settings. By increasing access to preventative care and disease management, the new facilities aim to mitigate these issues. "The added stress of having to wait many hours in the emergency department just adds to the stress of the experience," Shei noted, highlighting the importance of timely and accessible care.

Economic Impact

The construction of these facilities not only promises better healthcare but also economic growth. The North Pavilion will create 450 new jobs, while the NERB will bring in new faculty and staff, boosting local economic activity. Additionally, UMass Memorial plans to award $5 million in grants to local nonprofit organizations, further investing in the community’s well-being.

Job Creation

The North Pavilion’s construction will bring 450 new positions to UMass Memorial, providing significant employment opportunities in Worcester. These new jobs will spur economic activity, as new employees reinvest in local businesses and services. Similarly, the NERB’s opening will necessitate hiring additional faculty and staff, further contributing to the region’s economic vitality.

Community Investment

Beyond job creation, UMass Memorial’s commitment to awarding $5 million in grants to local nonprofits exemplifies their dedication to community support. These grants, distributed through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Determination of Need program, will fund initiatives that address broader health and social issues in Central Massachusetts.

A Vision for the Future

With stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the charge, the Celtics’ mission is clear: surround them with the right talent to maintain championship contention. As the front office navigates the draft, their savvy approach to cap management and player development will be pivotal.

Worcester’s new healthcare facilities are a testament to the city’s commitment to improving healthcare quality and access. As UMass Chan and UMass Memorial Health continue to push the boundaries of medical research and patient care, Central Massachusetts residents can look forward to a healthier future.


Worcester is making significant strides in healthcare with the development of UMass Chan’s NERB and UMass Memorial’s North Pavilion. These state-of-the-art facilities are set to revolutionize disease research and patient care in Central Massachusetts. By addressing immediate needs and systemic issues, while also boosting the local economy, these initiatives reflect a comprehensive approach to healthcare improvement. As Worcester transforms into a beacon of healthcare excellence, residents can anticipate a future where advanced medical care and groundbreaking research go hand in hand. Stay tuned as Worcester’s healthcare landscape evolves, setting new standards for quality and access. 🌟🏥Source: Worcester Business Journal.


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