By Lisa Gresci

LYNN (CBS) – Union Hospital in Lynn is the city’s only hospital.

“We ‪went from a community that has two hospitals, now we have one, and now we are going to have none,” Lynn Fire Department Captain Joseph Zukas said. ‬

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Lynn Fire Captain Joseph Zukas wants to prepare for the closing of Union Hospital (WBZ-TV)

With the decision to close the hospital and divert to and expand Salem Hospital by May 2020, The Lynn Fire Department wants to start looking at the potential domino effect now.

“An ‪ambulance would drop somebody off and do the paperwork, clean the ambulance and get back into service because they were still in the city of Lynn proper. Now we’re going to be into a neighboring community. There’s a lot of traffic and other issues, so the turn around time to be available for that next call is going to be increased, we feel,” he explained. ‬

Another concern is how long it could potentially take ambulances and others to get to the Salem hospital.

“It’s ‪it’s 5.7 miles from the location we are now to the hospital. We are talking about in Salem, and right now, with normal traffic, it would take 21 minutes to get there,” Zukas said.‬

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Lynn’s Union Hospital is expected to close by 2020. (WBZ-TV)

North Shore Medical Center said in a statement to WBZ:

“North Shore Medical Center is significantly expanding not only in emergency care but also in behavioral health and other services in order to provide a healthcare facility better tailored to today’s patients and their needs. These expansions, coupled with robust contingency options for peak periods, will ensure that patients in all of our communities continue to have access to high-quality care well into the future.”

Lynn Fire understands the benefit and only wants to get ready for this transition.

A major factor ahead of Union Hospital’s closing will be educating the public and helping people understand when to call 911.

‪“I commend them. We are going to work with them. We are allies with them; we are not against them,” Zukas said. ‬

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Lynn Fire said they will be prepared to bring on more ambulances if they find they need to do so and they’d like to remind people Union Hospital is open during construction.

Lisa Gresci