New home, sweet home for All Care VNA

February 21, 2012
By Thor Jourgensen/The Daily Item

Vicki Romero endured poor air quality and a worn-out rug in her old City Hall Square office, but the All Care Visiting Nurses Association employee’s new workplace features a roof-top deck and a workout room steps away from her desk.

“I like all the windows,” the Billerica resident and VNA intake manager said Wednesday as she discussed the VNA’s new $9 million headquarters at the corner of Market and Broad streets.

The building’s four floors are filled with 150 to 200 VNA employees every workday and many of All Care’s 450 other workers stop into the office for meetings or to fill out paperwork. Boston-based Suffolk Construction built the new facility during the past year and it opened on Jan. 16.

The brick and glass building features plenty of windows, including a 90-degree view from the corner of Market and Broad that encompasses the downtown, Lynn Harbor and the view down the coast to the Boston skyline.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter garage abuts one side of the building with Market and Broad streets on the building’s other sides.

“We’re very proud of it,” said All Care President Shawn Potter.

Potter draws sharp contrasts between the new building and the VNA’s old offices across from Lynn City Hall. The old offices included a windowless conference room where employees used an antiquated overhead projector for meeting presentations.

The new board room has windows, woodwork paneling and a computerized projection system connected to a screen that retracts into the room’s ceiling.

Training and data entry employees work in a second-floor office space filled with new cubicles. Potter said their old offices were inside a concrete room and the VNA’s information technology department worked out of a converted closet.

“Payroll (department) was in an area that, I would say, was about 8-feet by 8-feet,” he said.

The new headquarter’s third floor includes “touchdown” stations where nurses who spend their workdays visiting homes fill out paperwork or check their schedules, and a quality care department.

“That’s a very important factor in what we’re doing,” Potter said.

Potter said financial discipline and a commitment by All Care’s workers to expand the organization allowed All Care to save the money needed to pay for the new building. When the MBTA put land in front of the Market Street commuter garage out to bid in 2009, All Care submitted a bid and secured the site for its new building.

The construction allowed the organization to consolidate employees working in three locations into one.

“We brought over 75 jobs from locations in Wakefield, Lynn above the Century Bank and across from City Hall,” Potter said, adding, “The commitment was we wanted to stay in Lynn.”

All Care provides medical care inside a patient’s home. The organization has three components — in-home care, hospice care and All Care Resources, a private duty nurse provider. Potter said it serves about 12,000 patients annually ranging from Boston to the New Hampshire border.

All Care will host a ribbon cutting in the building on March 8 to officially mark its opening in advance of a planned June celebration of the organization’s centennial. He said the headquarters is not only a workplace, but a community-oriented building potentially available to other local organizations.

The roof-top deck includes a room for use by a caterer and Potter said a first-floor meeting room may be available for use by groups that need meeting space.

During the building’s design phase, All Care asked Suffolk Construction to partially complete two first-floor sections totaling 6,400 square feet, or about 15 percent of the building’s total square footage.

“We will either expand them or rent them out to someone compatible with our business,” he said.

Potter and his co-workers ate lunch downtown or ordered meals from local fast food eateries during the 25 years they worked in City Hall Square. Although the new building has a fourth-floor lunchroom, Potter said All Care workers will continue spending their lunch money downtown.

Sousa Rivera walked by the VNA building on Wednesday and said it is an improvement to the formerly vacant lot located between North Shore Community College on Broad Street and the commuter garage.

“I think it’s great — it makes good use of that land,” the Lynn resident said.



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