Multi-million dollar renovation coming to Tobey Hospital

By Matthew Bernat | Mar 15, 2017
Courtesy of: Southcoast Health

Southcoast Health officials expect construction of a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion at Tobey Hospital will begin this summer.

A larger emergency department is the goal, officials said, noting the current facility is undersized.

“The greater Wareham region has continued to grow in population and Tobey is serving twice the number of people the facility was built to handle,” said Southcoast Public Information Officer Peter Cohenno.

The expansion will require either the demolition or displacement of the Tobey Homestead. Southcoast owns the building, a local landmark at 148 Main St. that has sat vacant for a number of years, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Southcoast officials said the homestead must be razed or moved to accommodate the project. Southcoast Health officials said they are committed to working closely with town officials and community members in the process.

The new emergency department will have the capacity to treat 40,000 patients a year, said Cohenno.

The current emergency department is designed to serve 15,000 patients annually, but had a volume of more than 31,000 patients in 2016.

The expanded facility will have in excess of 30 rooms and reduce wait times for patients. The number of total hospital beds at Tobey Hospital will remain the same, however, additional private rooms will be added.

“The most common request that we get from patients is the desire to have a private room,” said Renee Clark, COO of Southcoast Hospitals Group. “We know that it can be difficult to share a room when you are not your feeling your best.”

The new addition is funded in part by the Campaign for Southcoast Health — a $25 million capital fundraising campaign, which is the largest in the not-for-profit healthcare system’s history.

“The campaign has been a tremendous success thanks to the generosity of so many individuals and businesses across the South Coast region,” said Jack Dresser, Chief Philanthropy Officer at Southcoast Health. “Southcoast Heath is also fortunate to benefit from the generosity of the hospital’s namesake, Alice Tobey Jones. In her will, she dedicated a significant part of her estate to ensure the health and wellness of the greater Wareham region.”

Also, the Tobey Guild committed $250,000 toward the project.

In addition to adding private rooms and expanding emergency services, Cohenno said the project solidifies Southcoast’s commitment to Tobey Hospital.

“At times there’s been a fear among people living in Wareham that Tobey might close,” he said. “I hope this shows that there is complete investment in Tobey Hospital…It’s here to stay.”

Comments (12)
Posted by: Chaka | Mar 16, 2017 15:07

Tearing down the Tobey House? Disgusting. I love seeing that beautiful house when I drive into downtown. It makes me happy to live here. Use it for storage, development, a gift shop, anything, but do not disgrace Alice Tobey Jones who gave you so much by razing her house to the ground. Or moving it. Where would you put it anyway? Shame on you Southcoast Health. And we thought you were a good neighbor.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Mar 16, 2017 17:20

Chaka, I love the Tobey House too. Twice since I moved to Wareham, I had jobs which required working in the evening hours. On my way home from those jobs, I traveled Sandwich Road and as I approached downtown Wareham and the Tobey House, I always felt an awe at the magnificence of the house, and should I no longer have that view to treasure, I'd feel a very sentimental loss.


But reality is what it is. Tobey Hospital has a tremendous need for more emergency room space and the staffing such space would allow.  The need for the emergency center to be connected in a logical way to the rest of the hospital, the design challenges presented by efforts to do so in the most efficient and cost effective manner, issues regarding hospital-related traffic flow and parking all factor into a decision to expand in the direction of the property where the Tobey House is now located.


I never had an opportunity to meet Alice Tobey Jones. I can imagine how much she loved the Tobey House and how amazed and pleased she'd be to know the degree to which Tobey Hospital has already grown, the number of people that have received care at Tobey, the degree to which the hospital needs to grow in order to best provide for its current and future patients, and the challenges both in funding and architectural design related to achieving necessary growth.


I think the question becomes was Alice Tobey Jone's gift to the town given with a wish that the property remain preserved forever as it was when given, or was it her wish that the property be used in the best possible way to benefit the hospital in its effort to care for those who enter the hospitals doors in need of urgent care?





Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Mar 16, 2017 17:23

It will be sad to see that landmark go but it is for a good reason.  Other than being historical and nice to look at, it serves no practical function.  I believe it is vacant.  It's taking up considerable space on Southcoast's property and they have to do what is best.  If it belonged to the town and was on town land it would be a different story (like the Nail Factory).  We'd have a say.  Southcoast helpsWareham in so many ways. Having a hospital 5 minutes from my home is one of the reasons why I choose to live in Wareham.  I trust their judgement is in the best interest of providing improved medical care.

Posted by: cranky pants | Mar 16, 2017 17:28

I want to go in and reclaim all the old wood... It would certainly dress up my old salt box home. Too bad they couldn't move the house across the street to Besse park and make it a visitor center. Perhaps we can get rid of those old military vehicles and that crazy old crane beside the park and rest the home there.

Posted by: Linda | Mar 17, 2017 00:08

Being born at Tobey, remembering the nurses actually living at the Tobey Homestead and working nights for over 15 years and seeing that home, never got stale.  Put a second floor over the waiting area and bring it towards the back of the home.  Do not tear it down, PLEASE!

Posted by: | Mar 17, 2017 09:05

It does look great, sad to see it go.

Posted by: bob | Mar 17, 2017 09:12

Article in today S.T.,states that Alice Tobey Jones, Will had granted permission to alter,wreck the buildings for betterment of the hospital,,Guess that says it all....

Posted by: barnstorm | Mar 17, 2017 10:01

If Southcoast Health is going to extend its emergency care space with this building addition project, then ok. But if the future marijuana dispensary goes there as well, then I'm with Chaka. Shame on them!

Posted by: bob | Mar 17, 2017 13:31

BARNSTORM,I believe that they are going to set up shop at the building that has the nice white pillars, across from Bessie Park..

Posted by: Chaka | Mar 17, 2017 13:57

Linda I really like your 2nd floor expansion idea. And Bob, I question whether that what is said in the Standard times about the Tobey will is in fact true. I do know southcoast healthcare is one of their largest advertisers.


Posted by: bob | Mar 17, 2017 15:00

CHAKA,guess in due time,we will know if the article is true or not.....I'm sure Southcoast lawyers have been looking into it.....

Posted by: sadie | Mar 17, 2017 17:15

I recently spent a few days at Tobey and can't tell you how great the nurses were. Compared to my stay a few years ago they are greatly improved. I hope they take some of the profits from these new improvements and give a raise to the nurses and other staff at Tobey

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