March 29, 2018

Athol Hospital receives $28M MassDevelopment financing

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Construction of a new medical building broke ground last spring at Athol Hospital. The three-story building will be funded, in large part, through a tax-exempt bond and tax credit provided by MassDevelopment, the state finance and development agency. The financing package is worth $28.2 million.

MassDevelopment has provided $28.2 million in financing to help pay for the construction of a three-story medical building to expand access to emergency, primary and behavioral healthcare on the Athol Hospital campus, according to an announcement from the state finance and development agency Thursday.

Under the project, which broke ground last spring, the 25-bed, acute care hospital serving the North Quabbin region will see its emergency department expanded on the first floor of the building, as well as the addition of a rural health clinic on the second floor, and office space on the third floor of the new building, which will adjoin the existing facility at 2033 Main St., according to MassDevelopment. The third floor space will be leased to a local behavioral health services nonprofit.

The MassDevelopment money will also be used to build new parking areas, make infrastructure improvements, renovate existing interiors, and buy and install equipment.

The financing package includes an $11.2-million tax-exempt bond and a $17-million New Markets Tax Credit allocation. MassDevelopment offers tax-exempt bonds to a range of qualified projects, from public infrastructure projects to nonprofit real estate and equipment investments, and the New Markets Tax Credit program targets development projects in economically-distressed areas.

"MassDevelopment is dedicated to providing creative financing solutions for nonprofits across the commonwealth that offer critical services and care," MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss said in Thursday's statement.

Fulfilling a promise

The new medical building is part of Heywood HealthCare's "Fulfilling Our Promise" campaign, which was established after Heywood acquired Athol Hospital in 2013, merging Heywood Hospital in Gardner with its smaller competitor. In an interview last year, Heywood CEO Winfield Brown said Heywood administrators promised Athol leaders the system will build a new emergency room within five years of the merger.

MassDevelopment is one funding source for the project, which is also supported by an ongoing capital campaign, said Marissa Colcord, a Heywood spokeswoman.

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