Schenectady County

Bellevue work moving well

Staff members at Ellis Hospital’s Bellevue Woman’s Center are watching the ongoing building project

Staff members at Ellis Hospital’s Bellevue Woman’s Center are watching the ongoing building project there as they would one of their patients.

“The overall mood is very positive over there,” Paul Milton, the hospital’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said Monday. “They’re looking at it as almost like watching a pregnancy evolving from month to month.”

And when work is completed, Bellevue will offer nicer surroundings for mothers to give birth.

The $15 million project is well under way and includes a new building and the renovation of older space, officials said. The plan is to provide the hospital with modern space for patient rooms and nurseries.

A new wing will replace the old four-story manor house at the site. The house was razed about a month ago, and the foundation for the new wing is being put in place. Steel work is expected to go up in April.

The project also includes replacing 28 semiprivate rooms in the 40-bed facility with private rooms, adding a three-bay triage room for incoming patients and enlarging the 15-bed neonatal unit. The total number of rooms, however, will remain the same.

The project is being done with consultation from state historic preservation officials, with elements of the old manor house used in the new construction. The manor house was razed only after key architectural elements were saved, including two fireplaces, part of a staircase, a window and hundreds of bricks.

One of the fireplaces has already been installed in a community room in the main building. A second will be placed in a family lounge in the new maternity unit.

Many of the bricks will be used in a cornerstone image on the outside of the new building. Some have been offered to employees as mementos.

The new building is set for completion by the end of this year, Milton said. Once that is completed, renovation of the existing space will then begin. The entire project is set for completion by September 2013.

Milton said the relatively snowless winter has helped the project move along quickly.

“The weather’s been a big help to all of us, except the skiers,” Milton said.

The project began in earnest last fall when the hospital received a $15 million loan insured by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 242 Supplemental Insurance Program. The program insures mortgages made by private lending institutions to fund construction or renovation of hospitals, officials said.

The move allowed the hospital to get lower-cost financing, saving an estimated $3.6 million in interest over the life of the loan, federal officials said.

What was then known as Bellevue Woman’s Hospital was founded in 1931 and moved to its current location in 1942, taking up residence in the manor home. The house was built in 1920 as a summer home for C.W. Stone, a noted electrical engineer who worked closely with Thomas Edison on a number of projects, according to a 1991 Daily Gazette column by historian Larry Hart.

The hospital expanded in 1972 with a new wing. Ellis took over the hospital in 2007.

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