Atrius Health plans to consolidate six of its locations into an $18 million multispecialty medical clinic off Long Pond Road that will serve its nearly 30,000 patients in Plymouth and surrounding communities.

The new facility, which is nearing completion, will house all of the medical and administrative functions at Cordage Park, Court Street, Long Pond Road and the Pinehills in Plymouth, plus the Atrius Duxbury and Kingston practices. The Atrius practice in Bourne will remain at its current location.

“Atrius Health is proud to build upon our commitment to the communities we serve with a new state-of-the-art practice location in Plymouth,” Dr. Chris Andreoli, Atrius CEO, said in a written statement. “We hope to share additional details and an official opening date in early 2024.”

The 50,000-square-foot clinic is under construction at 36 Shops at 5 Way – in The Grove at Plymouth retail complex – transforming the retail building that has housed Jo-Ann Fabrics, Bridgewater Credit Union and other businesses. In addition to adult primary care and pediatrics, the new clinic will offer cardiology, ENT (ear, nose and throat), optometry, ophthalmology, orthopedics, podiatry, rheumatology and urgent care services on site. It will also include a pharmacy with a drive-through window and an optical shop selling eyeglass frames, lenses and contacts.

The biggest medical technology addition for the new clinic is a radiology suite with MRI and CT imaging, as well as x-ray and ultrasound services.

“Today, the only available CT and MRI services in the Plymouth area are higher cost, hospital-based services,” Atrius wrote in its application to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to provide those imaging services at the new location.

Atrius Plymouth area doctors ordered 1,286 MRI and 2,635 CT scans between April 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022. The vast majority of those scans (88.7 percent) were done by other providers. That presumably includes Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Plymouth. The remaining scans were done at Atrius locations with MRI and CT imaging. The closest to Plymouth now are in Weymouth and Norwood.

Capturing more of the MRI and CT caseload in Plymouth would be a significant new source of revenue for Atrius. It would also benefit patients, the health care provider contends, by shortening wait times for scans and coordinating follow-up care with patients all in one place. “By having access to these advanced imaging modalities in an outpatient setting, patients in the Plymouth area will be more likely to receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time,” Atrius wrote to the state.

The Atrius clinic under construction traces its history to 1992, when Dr. Alfred Baum and eight colleagues founded PMG Physician Associates in Plymouth.

“We were the first group of its kind in this area,” Baum recalled. “We were solo practitioners facing growing pressures of a changing medical care system, new technologies and greater administrative burdens. So, we decided that joining forces was more efficient for us to continue providing the community-based care we all were practicing.”

PMG maintained that model for decades, with small practices across the Greater Plymouth region. Over time, however, PMG realized the traditional approach of local doctors caring for their neighbors was not sustainable. The group began preliminary planning to build a consolidated clinic, along the lines of what is now under construction, Baum said.

“This is something that we recognized the need for over 20 years ago at PMG, but we lacked the resources to achieve it on our own. That was the impetus for joining Atrius, and now with Optum they certainly have the resources to make it happen,” Baum said.

Atrius Health acquired PMG Physician Associates in 2016, expanding its footprint as the largest physician practice in Massachusetts, with about 700 doctors caring for nearly 750,000 patients at that time.

Atrius Health was acquired in 2021 by the Optum division of the UnitedHealth Group, which is the largest health care employer in the United States. UnitedHealth owns physician groups, ambulatory clinics, a pharmacy benefits manager called OptumRx and the massive United Healthcare insurance company that covers about 150 million people nationwide.

“What you are seeing in Plymouth is part of the trend of vertical integration in health care,” said John E McDonough, DrPH, MPA, professor of practice in the Department of Health Policy & Management at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “It used to be horizontal integration, meaning hospitals would buy up other hospitals, insurers would buy up other insurers, pharmacies would buy up other pharmacies. Now these companies are buying into every aspect of care. CVS is not just a pharmacy, now they have Aetna Insurance, and UnitedHealth has doctors, clinics, pharmacies and insurance.”

While these mergers are often billed as lowering health care costs by increasing efficiencies and gaining economies of scale, McDonough said that’s not always the case over the long term.

“Economists who look at this, from the left, right and center, say that the amount of mergers and consolidation in health care has been a big driver of why health care is so expensive,” he said. “So, will this have some convenience for patients? Yes. But these companies are very good at maximizing revenue, so I would take nothing for granted. Watch your bills closely.”

Baum said he is pleased that the new building is nearly ready, even as he remains nostalgic for the bygone era of small community practices. “Having a whole menu of services in one building has an enormous value-add for patients, but there is no question that you lose something,” he said. “You lose that close relationship with your physician and that neighborhood flavor of the practice, that when you call the office, you know the person on the phone and they know you. But what we are seeing is inevitable, and I believe that the positives do outweigh the negatives.”

The shift will mean a big loss for Cordage Park, where Atrius medical and administrative offices occupy a significant section of Building 10.

Atrius notified Cordage Park in 2021 of its plans to relocate but, has not yet set a move-out date, nor has it indicated if it will move all of its operations at once or in phases, according to Cordage property manager Kristin Ligouri.  “We will be working with Atrius to make it a smooth transmission to their new facility,” she said.

What will happen to the vacant Atrius space at Cordage Park is not clear, Ligouri said. Some discussions with potential tenants are ongoing, she said. “Atrius has been a good tenant. They’ve taken great care of their spaces, so we think it could be a good fit for other tenants,” Ligouri said.

Michael Cohen can be reached at

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