One year after a 10-alarm fire forced the evacuation of 162 patients and left the South Shore without much-needed hospital beds, Brockton Hospital says it plans to reopen in the late spring.

In the fire’s aftermath, nurses described carrying patients down smoky staircases as firefighters rushed into the building. All of the hospital’s patients were safely transferred to other hospitals in the area.

“Every day since the fire, one of our three paramount goals has been to safely reopen as soon as possible,” Robert Haffey, president and CEO of Brockton Hospital's parent company Signature Healthcare, said in a press release. “[W]e have entered the final phases of work to continue renovating the damaged electrical and other infrastructure and are announcing this spring, Brockton Hospital will welcome back its valued staff, patients, and the community.”

Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan reflected back on what he saw that day, a year ago.

“It was just heroic actions,” Sullivan said Wednesday. “The fire department and Chief Brian Nardelli outside of the building, in collaboration with a lot of mutual aid, a lot of different fire departments and EMS. But it was also the workers of the Brockton Hospital Signature Healthcare, inside. Thankfully, nobody was injured. But it was a really scary situation.”

Despite the hospital’s stated goal of reopening in “late spring,” Sullivan said he heard a June reopening was possible.

Brockton Hospital used the closure as an opportunity to make some previously planned renovations, including the addition of a 12-unit behavioral health triage unit and a new outpatient surgical center.

After he toured the renovations on Wednesday, Sullivan said he was impressed.

“They’ve done just an amazing amount of work, and it’s a reimagination,” he said.

The fire began in an electrical equipment room and destroyed much of the hospital’s electrical wiring.

“An electrical fire of that magnitude meant that we have to rewire the entire 250,000-square-foot hospital,” Brian Backoff, Brockton Hospital’s director of facilities and engineering, said in a press release issued by the hospital. “Wiring a hospital is a monumental task even for new construction. Retrofitting a hospital with new wiring and electrical and other infrastructure is even more challenging.”

Backoff added that supply chain issues caused by the pandemic slowed things down.

Over the last year, much of the burden of caring for Brockton Hospital's patients has fallen on nearby Good Samaritan Medical Center, on the west side of Brockton. Good Samaritan has seen a 30% increase in its daily emergency room visits and its ambulance load has doubled since the fire, Good Samaritan’s president, Matthew Hesketh, said.

“One thing that is abundantly clear to me 365 days later, is that this is a city that needs two hospitals,” Hesketh said. “So I’m thrilled to hear that Brockton Hospital is reopening in the late spring. I think it’s fantastic that they’ve been able to get the enormous amount of work done to bring that building back to safe operating condition.”

Good Samaritan is part of the Steward Healthcare system, which is facing a financial crisis.

Hesketh acknowledged that Brockton Hospital’s closure for the last year has been an added financial strain. He said Good Samaritan has seen roughly a 40% increase in its Medicaid patient population.

“I attribute that directly to Brockton’s closure,” Hesketh said. “I think, historically, we’ve pretty much split up the health care needs of the community. And those are the patients who are most challenged to seek care outside of the communities in which they live. That does come with challenges, certainly on the financial side, because the reimbursement for the services for that patient population are generally less than some of the commercial payers.”