Shattuck Hospital to close 10-story building

March 29, 2013
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(Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira) The Personnel Building on the Shattuck Hospital campus.

(Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira) The Personnel Building on the Shattuck Hospital campus.

FOREST HILLS—Lemuel Shattuck Hospital has plans to “decommission” its Personnel Building, a 10-story tower on its campus that houses a child care facility, administrative offices and equipment and record storage.

Shattuck Hospital is a state hospital that treats members of the public as well as prisoners in a secure psychiatric unit. Its main hospital building and a homeless shelter will remain open.

The Personnel Building, part of Shattuck’s campus just inside Franklin Park at 170 Morton St., will be emptied and mothballed due to a host of structural deficiencies discovered during an “extensive” state review of the grounds conducted in October 2012, said Alec Loftus, communication director for the state Department of Health and Human Services. The building’s roof requires major repairs, many stairs are deteriorating, the elevators need replacing, the electrical and plumbing systems both need upgrades, and the building is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Loftus explained.

“Given all that, the capital needed to upgrade the building would be substantial and redesign opportunities would be very limited,” Loftus told the Gazette last week. There are no current plans to demolish the building, he said.

Administrative offices will be relocated to the main hospital building in late spring or early summer. Shattuck human resources and in-patient rehabilitation programs previously housed in the Personnel Building’s lower floors have already been relocated to the main hospital building.

As part of the plan to mothball the 1954 building, the Shattuck Child Care Center will have until August 2014 to find a new home. The child care center was founded in 1989 was a recruitment tool for state employees to come work at Shattuck. It currently cares for 39 children aged 15 months to 6 years old, according to Loftus.

“In August 2012, the state told us they were shuttering our building. They promised us we’d have a process to identify another space on campus. They said they would give us one year to move from the time a new space was identified,” said Clare Reilly, a member of the Shattuck Child Care Center Board. “We never heard from them again.”

It is unclear when and why the state decided to close the building.

“They’re very concerned about this. The folks I’ve talked to are really hoping it can stay there,” state Rep. Liz Malia told the Gazette last week.

“We have researched other locations on-site,” Loftus said, but explained that it would require significant improvements, for which there are no funds currently available. As such, it is possible that the child care facility could move off the Shattuck campus.

“We will continue to work with Shattuck to discuss what it would take to remain on campus,” Loftus said. “[But] we don’t have any locations readily available.”

“We’re hoping to help them find a new space, ideally in the neighborhood,” Malia said. “I don’t think they’re married to staying in that building. They just want to keep it accessible to the community.”

According to Reilly, the state also will stop subsidizing the center. Currently, the state covers part of the cost for children of state employees and does not charge the center rent.

“They made a policy decision” to not continue to fund the center, which was not previously announced to the center, Reilly said. “One year is not enough time for us to become a self-sustaining, viable nonprofit.”

“We’ve been left in the dark,” she said.