Ellis Medicine broke ground on a massive expansion of its emergency room Friday, but before officials took hold of their shiny shovels adorned with ribbons they lavished thanks onto the people who made it happen.
The list was long. Hospital administrators, doctors, nurses, elected representatives, city leaders and county officials were all praised for their help. But it was Jane and Neil Golub who received a standing ovation. The husband-wife philanthropy team not only helped finance part of the nearly $61 million project, but also sparked ideas for it from the very beginning.
“Their vision and support for this facility and for Ellis over the years has really been inspiring for us all,” said Ellis Medicine President and CEO James Connolly before a crowd of more than 100 gathered on the hospital’s Nott Street campus Friday.
The Golub Center for Emergency Care will be a state-of-the-art facility designed to accommodate 90,000 visits a year. It doubles the size of the current center to 38,000 square feet, and will include 60 private rooms that are fully equipped with cardiac monitoring gear and flat-screen TVs.
The extra space and new layout will improve care in a few ways: it puts doctors and nurses in closer proximity to patient rooms, enhances privacy, minimizes wait time, and accommodates more ambulances.
Crews will also construct a new two-deck parking garage where the current ER parking lot is located, increasing parking from 118 to 212 spaces.
The Friday groundbreaking event marked the last major step in restructuring recommended by the Berger Commission and mandated by the state in 2007.
Slated for completion in 2015, the project will consolidate two emergency departments that last year handled a combined 85,000 visits. The hospital’s ER facility on McClellan Street will be converted into an urgent care center.
“This plan will allow us to deliver the right services in the right location at the right time, and enhance care through improved patient flow and privacy,” said Connolly.
The state-mandated restructuring resulted in a succession of health care overhauls in Schenectady County.
Across the state, hospitals and nursing homes were told to cut excess beds, eliminate duplication of services, modernize facilities, and provide more primary and preventive care.
Ellis Medicine led the way locally in implementing these changes.
Three hospitals were unified under the umbrella of Ellis Medicine, which consolidated all of its maternity inpatient care at Bellevue Woman’s Center, relocated its nursing home and outpatient services to the former St. Clare’s Hospital on McClellan Street, created a medical home and joined the Visiting Nurse Service of Schenectady and Saratoga Counties to execute one of the state’s very first Health Homes.
It will open the Medical Center of Clifton Park at the end of this month, expanding Ellis’ reach into southern Saratoga County with a new emergency care facility and other services. And at the start of next year, it will open a new and expanded Bellevue Woman’s Center in Niskayuna.
“This has been a real model of how we would like the rest of the state to look,” state Department of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Ellis will be used as an example for other consolidations and reconfigurations.”
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco praised the Golubs for helping with several of these changes and providing a sense of security for the region.
State Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, was also on hand, and praised hospital officials for facing head-on the “tough challenge” presented by the Berger recommendations.
Several other local officials attended the groundbreaking, including state Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna; Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy; Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle; and a handful of City Council members and county legislators.