Schenectady County

Ellis nursing home work to start soon

Major renovations are about to begin at the former St. Clare’s Hospital, which will soon house the E

Major renovations are about to begin at the former St. Clare’s Hospital, which will soon house the Ellis nursing home.

The transition, which is expected to take a year and cost $8 million, will also give Ellis Hospital space for 82 more beds at its main campus.

Residents are reportedly thrilled to be moving to the former St. Clare’s, where they will enjoy gardens, large living rooms to visit with family and even an Internet cafe.

They will have roughly twice as much space as they have now, said Patti Hammond, vice president of operations.

“I am so excited about it, I can’t stop talking about it,” Hammond said. “It will be beautiful and big.”

There will be room for many more activities, she said, including pedicures and manicures at the expanded hair salon. A rooftop garden will also become the residents’ private yard.

“Right now, in order to get outside, they have to go down the elevator, probably in a wheelchair, and go outside to the front of the hospital,” Hammond said. “The rooftop garden feels like a private area. After all, they live here. This is their home.”

The plans have been posted at the nursing home, and some residents are already picking out rooms, although the hospital hasn’t yet decided how to award room assignments. Since the rooms are basically identical, it’s not much of a problem.

“But people like to have choices,” Hammond said. “The residents and their families are very excited. We’ll have a lot more space. We feel a little cramped here.”

The new home will also have six beds for obese patients recovering from bariatric weight loss surgery. For now, the closest rehabilitation center for them is in Connecticut.

“We can’t accommodate those patients now,” Hammond said. “We need large chairs, large rooms, large bathrooms.”

They will have all of that at the new home.

Renovations should be finished by this time next year, and the residents will move in immediately. Once they do, Ellis executives will decide what to do with the rooms left empty on the main campus.

“Now we will have 82 empty beds up there,” Hammond said. “We’ll have the ability, if we need to, to move beds around. Sometimes we have a bed crunch.”

Ellis has generally solved its bed shortage — more than 80 beds were added last year to address long wait times after the merger with St. Clare’s. But the hospital does occasionally have busy days when some patients wait hours for a room. On Monday, some surgery patients had to wait in the recovery room for eight or more hours because the hospital had a surge in ER patients and ran out of rooms. All of the patients were eventually given rooms.

“It was busy in the Emergency Department, it was a busy OR and we just had a lot of sick people in the hospital,” spokeswoman Donna Evans said. “Some patients had to wait longer, and we always regret that. But these days would happen whether we [merged with St. Clare’s] or not. The bottom line is, some days we’ve got to reach more, but we’ve got the beds and the staff to meet the need.”

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