Harvard affiliate Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center relies on Colliers for best practices

by | 18 December 2017

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s (BIDMC) dedication to identifying and implementing best practices makes it a leader among teaching hospitals and health systems. With such high standards, BIDMC insists on a real estate partner that is as committed to best practices for bricks and mortar, as it is to those for patients, students and staff.

BIDMC has found such a partner in Colliers. Since 2002, Colliers has reliably delivered real estate strategies and solutions that complement and reinforce BIDMC’s healthcare leadership.

“Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a Harvard Teaching Hospital – one of the big players in our region,” says Bill Lynch, Senior Vice President, Colliers. “It conducts a perpetual search for best practices. Because Colliers brings its own set of best practices on the real estate side, it makes us one of the important cogs in the machine that helps Beth Israel accomplish its goals.”

To be included in the Harvard Medical School family is a high honor. According to its webpage, “Harvard Medical School has agreements with 16 clinical affiliates and research institutes, vital partners that provide patient care and clinical training. These hospitals and institutes employ many physicians and scientists with Harvard Medical School faculty appointments. All told, the Faculty of Medicine includes more than 12,000 individuals working in classrooms, clinics and laboratories across Boston and Cambridge.”

Colliers is equally honored to serve such a leader in healthcare education and clinical practice.

Initially starting in a leasing capacity, Colliers, along with many competitors, answered the health system’s Request for Proposal (RFP) in 2009-10 when BIDMC’s needs to expand and extend its brand were changing. Colliers was chosen as a semifinalist and went through an extensive interview process in front of a BIDMC “team of many” before winning the business.

“Colliers was chosen because we felt it had the most comprehensive team, with expert specialists on the broker side, rounded out by a top-notch project management team,” says Bill Burley, Head of Real Estate for BIDMC. “Colliers gave us the full range of coverage and expertise we needed.”

Over the years, that full coverage and expertise of Colliers’ Boston team, comprised of five departments, has encompassed a wide variety of comprehensive real estate services for BIDMC. Whether the need has been internal or external, Colliers has been there to help. Anywhere from five to 10 transactions per year are completed, running the gamut from appraisals and acquisitions to large-scale projects and thought leadership.

“With this client, the only constant is change,” states Mr. Lynch. “We’ve handled everything from leasing, development, renovation, highest and best use studies – basically anything they want or need. Many times, they ask Colliers to help them prioritize, A, B or C when they need to deal with an issue within an ecosystem. We are a trusted advisor that helps this important client make critical and informed decisions with the most current, market- and industry-based knowledge.”

“Our entire team has a very good and thorough understanding of BIDMC’s goals,” says Kristin E. Blount, Colliers’ Executive Vice President & Shareholder, Brokerage. “In their RFP process, they made it very clear they wanted best in class practices, better economies of scale given the size of their portfolio and a clear understanding of their business plan. Our deep and ongoing relationship has been based on their trust in us as well as our constant commitment to study and fully understand their needs.

“In addition, we’ve made them a priority  and treat them like they’re our only client, with Colliers ready to jump in at any time, whether by text, phone, email or in person. They’ve told us they feel like our number one client and that we always have their back.”

The depth of that strong client relationship was clearly illustrated in 2013 when BIDMC asked Colliers to extend its world-class expertise beyond the mothership location in the prestigious Longwood Medical Corridor of Boston to accommodate a new 30,000 square foot satellite outpatient center. It was important to BIDMC to provide patients with easy access to the same quality care and many of the same services offered at its Longwood facility, but in a smaller, more convenient and more demographically attractive location that also offers a full array of services and amenities.

The Colliers team found that perfect mix of variables at Chestnut Hill Square, a lifestyle shopping center in the high-end suburb of Chestnut Hill. The highly visible site at 200 Boylston St., located off Route 9, was perfect for the new outpatient center, with the added benefit of ample free parking and plenty of things to do while you’re visiting the center for a medical appointment – whether it’s eating at a highly rated restaurant, shopping for clothing, accessories or food in the on-site supermarket, it’s easy and productive for patients to go to the doctor.

“Opening a healthcare center in a prominent suburb that is a short distance to the Longwood Medical area was important to the client,” Ms. Blount says. “We helped them find the right location. Even though the base building was delivered as a medical office building, BIDMC’s uses required a complicated infrastructure, and  building the Tenant’s space right in the middle of a lifestyle shopping center took hours of negotiation and advance planning.”

Part of Colliers’ creative negotiations included getting to “yes” through preparation, flexibility and getting the proper legal advice. Regarding the negotiations with the landlord on the lease rate, Ms. Blount recalls, “we were only peanuts apart. So we donated a piece of our fee.”

Regarding the zoning and whether an MOB use would be allowed, “there was no certainty. So, again, as part of our fee we hired an attorney, who determined the use was acceptable,” Ms. Blount continues.

The resulting Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare-Chestnut Hill opened in July 2014. The beautiful facility conveniently provides a wide variety of the most needed medical services under one roof, such as orthopedic sports medicine, primary and specialty care, physical and occupational therapy, radiology/imaging, obstetrics and gynecology, a spine center, pain management, neurology, and medical and surgical subspecialties such as endocrinology, gastroenterology, general surgery and podiatry. It also includes an on-site lab and advanced urgent care with after-hours walk-in appointments.

BIDMC is thrilled with the result.

“Having comprehensive medical services in a brand new building with state-of-the-art systems and ample free parking at a convenient Route 9 location – an extension of the Longwood Medical corridor – provides us with an enormous opportunity to better serve our patients,” says Bill Burley of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “In addition, the urgent care center has helped Beth Israel reduce both unnecessary emergency room visits and unnecessary readmissions, as well as preventing a loss of business to other urgent care centers after hours, when many Beth Israel-affiliated physicians do not have appointments available.”

The health system indicates it has plans to use the Chestnut Hill Square facility as a template for other similar facilities in the Boston area.

“It is one of BIDMC’s highest-performing locations,” Ms. Blount says. “It has free parking, great retailers and great security. No one is coming here in an ambulance. They are trying to be part of the fabric of this experience. In addition, the credibility and branding of a Harvard Teaching Hospital works. People just naturally want to get their care here. And Colliers is proud to be branded along with them.”

Colliers’ partnership with BIDMC underscores how great relationships rely heavily on trust, loyalty and reliability.

“While the Chestnut Hill Square deal was so high profile, we are doing deals every day,” says Jim Elcock, President and Head of Brokerage for Colliers New England. “We work on some lease deals of as little as 5,000 square feet. But on every transaction, regardless of size, we work hard to negotiate the most competitive terms below market rate, whether we are renewing office space or blending and extending at an office building.

“The bottom line for Colliers: The relationship is always of the utmost importance.”

Mr. Burley agrees. “Beth Israel is the best in terms of what they do, and the Colliers team is very bright and experienced. Together we make a great team doing great things.”

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