Frequently Asked Questions
- What is an Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC)?
Ambulatory Surgical Centers perform surgical procedures on an outpatient basis, or stated another way, surgeries that do not require an overnight hospitalization. These surgeries are typically very specialized, minimally invasive procedures.
- Why are ASCs important?
As the delivery of healthcare continues to rapidly change, more and more surgeries are being performed in outpatient settings. For instance, in 2014, over 66% of surgeries in the U.S. were performed in an outpatient setting compared to 51% in 1990. As a local healthcare provider, it is important that we recognize these changes and offer our patients and community the best and most advanced medical services in the best setting for our patients.
- It has been stated that surgeries performed at ASCs are less expensive, what does that mean?
The cost of a freestanding ASC, like the one proposed in Medford, can be up to 50% lower than the cost of a traditional outpatient hospital surgery department. Prices charged to patients and payment from insurance companies tend to be higher in hospitals because those services take into account hospital overhead, such as infrastructure for complex surgeries and the operation of inpatient services. Freestanding ASCs do not have this costly overhead and therefore have a lower billing structure which translates into lower costs to patients in the form of reduced copays and lower health insurance premiums. For example, on average Medicare is billed 53% less in an ASC vs the same surgery in a hospital. Commercial payors such as Blue Cross/Blue Shields, Tufts or Harvard Pilgrim typically base their payment on Medicare but typically pay more than Medicare.
- What benefits will an ASC bring to the City of Medford?
The proposed ASC will benefit the City of Medford by bringing state-of-the-art surgical procedures to this community. Medford patients and their families will receive the benefit of a high quality, lower cost option for surgery and procedures. Otherwise, patients and their families may have to travel into Boston. The ASC will include staff, physicians and equipment to also provide the same high-quality, low-cost option to children.
For those residents of Medford and surrounding communities that have surgery at the ASC, there may be direct healthcare savings in the form of reduced copays and lower health insurance premiums.
Most importantly, research shows that ASCs have an excellent record of safety and quality and provide patient outcomes that equal or exceed the results provided by every other site of outpatient surgical care – including hospitals. Patients report a 92% satisfaction rate for surgeries performed at ASCs.The ASC will pay local taxes as well as add jobs to the area.
In addition, as part of the state review process, there will be a substantial community benefits contribution to help address the pressing health and social welfare needs of Medford and other communities. The total amount that the ASC will contribute towards community health initiatives is approximately $733,000.
- Why not renovate the existing operating rooms?
First opened in 1924, the Lawrence Memorial Hospital has served Medford and its surrounding communities for decades. The current operating rooms at Lawrence Memorial, designed and built in the 1970’s, have reached the end of their useful life and require significant renovation to meet the standards of care, technology requirements, and patient needs of today. By building new operating rooms, the ambulatory surgery center will realize greater efficiencies and a more productive team environment, which all results in a better system of care for patients. It is estimated that renovating the Lawrence Memorial Hospital operating rooms will cost at least $3M more than constructing a new ASC.
- How will the proposed ASC address parking and traffic?
MelroseWakefield Healthcare will continue to engage the community and city officials to ensure our plans appropriately address parking and traffic. This will include an independent traffic and parking analysis that will be conducted with input and in coordination with the City’s traffic engineer. We will share that study with the community upon its conclusion and post the information online.
- Where will the ASC be located?
MelroseWakefield Healthcare is proposing to locate the ASC on the campus of the Lawrence Memorial Hospital. There are several on-site locations that will be evaluated. As one part of that process, borings will be drilled on the property. We will also consider parking, aesthetics and the community input we have received.
- What is the approval process for an ASC?
The proposed ASC requires both state and local approval. The ASC filed a Determination of Need application with the State Department of Public Health. The Director and staff of the Determination of Need Program are evaluating the application and will consider all public comment and testimony submitted to them. MelroseWakefield Healthcare is also working with the City of Medford to obtain the local building permits and related approvals.
- What types of procedures will be performed in the ASC?
The ASC is planned to be a single story facility consisting of 3 operating rooms and 2 procedure rooms. Outpatient or “day surgery” procedures will be performed at the ASC – where the patient comes in, has their procedure and then goes home, all within a few hours. The ASC will offer orthopedic, ear, nose and throat, and general surgery, as well as gastroenterology procedures such as endoscopies and colonoscopies. The ASC will also have specifically trained staff and physicians as well as equipment intended for children which is necessary for otolaryngology cases (ear, nose, throat) including tonsils and ear tubes.
- Why were boring (soil testing) performed?
The borings are a necessary step for us to better evaluate the soil and understand the options for where the proposed Ambulatory Surgery Center may be located. By doing the soil exploration, we can better gauge safe locations and construction estimates.