After a winding walk through starchy white hallways, Dr. Matthew Miles opened a door and poked his head inside.
“This is where we’ll do CAT Scans,” he said, sweeping his hand toward a big doughnut-shaped machine. “It’s pretty cool, isn’t it? Looks like a time machine.”
This room, like the hallways and waiting room and patient rooms inside the Medical Center of Clifton Park, smells like fresh paint and a fresh start. Miles, the center’s medical director, and the rest of the Ellis Medicine health care staff who will start work here Monday are as excited as kids on their first day of school.
Hospital officials milled about the new emergency care center Friday after a ribbon-cutting ceremony, exchanging congratulations and laughs as they toured the two-story, 38,000-square-foot facility, Ellis’ only physical presence in southern Saratoga County. Ground was broken on the center last September, and 13 months later doors opened to a welcoming community.
“This is something that was needed in the community for many, many years,” said Debbie Purcell, a registered nurse who will start work here after 33 years at Ellis Medicine’s main campus on Nott Street in Schenectady.
She and fellow nurse Diana Graziano both live in Clifton Park and have taken care of patients from their own community who previously had to drive 20 or 30 minutes away from home to get urgent care. Whether it was a child having a late-night asthma attack or an elderly person who had a bad fall, the closest place to get help was in Schenectady or Saratoga or Albany.
“Everybody wanted to work here because this is a state-of-the-art facility that is like nothing else,” said Graziano, who has worked at Ellis Hospital for 18 years. “Have you seen how beautiful it is?”
The Medical Center of Clifton Park has a tan brick facade and a sweeping glass sail-like structure covered in steel mesh that juts high in the sky. It can be seen near Exit 9 from the Northway, where it sits at 103 Sitterly Road. The entryway is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows that give way to an open lobby, registration area, waiting room and kids’ play room.
On the first floor are six patient rooms, resuscitation area and triage room with space for eight beds. Three more patient rooms line the back wall of this area, but have yet to be built out. There is also a decontamination room lining the back wall, next to an ambulance bay.
Around a few corners are rooms for the imaging and laboratory services offered at the center, including an MRI, X-Rays, CT scans, mammography and ultrasound technology.
Miles accepted the job as medical director in June, after three years as chairman and medical director at Glens Falls Hospital. Prior to that, he served as director for pediatric emergency medicine at Albany Medical Center.
Joining him at the center will be about 40 emergency room-trained doctors and nurses, most of whom have years of experience and were plucked from Ellis Hospital and nearby health care providers.
On the second floor of the center are physicians’ offices for primary care and specialty services, including cardiology, general surgery, neurosurgery, neurology, orthopedics, bariatrics, rheumatology, pulmonary and gastrointestinal care.
Physicians from Ellis Medical Group, Cardiology Associates of Schenectady and other local practices roamed the second-floor hallways Friday, which were open to those who had attended the ribbon cutting earlier.
“Are you ready?” Miles asked Denia Pedreira, the new family medicine physician at the center.
“I think I’m ready,” she said with a wide smile.
The center will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week starting Monday at 12:01 a.m. The whole team has eagerly awaited the grand opening.
“Until you’re physically in the space, planning how you’re going to do things is hard to do,” said Miles. “The construction has been amazing, though, and very well thought-out. It really did make it easy when we got into the space to start figuring it all out.”
Ellis Medicine spent $3 million on the new equipment, and is leasing the space from co-developers Columbia Development and Galesi Group, which spent an overall $10 million on the construction project.
The facility is the first of its kind in the Capital Region, because it’s a standalone urgent care center with all of the services that come with an emergency department.
Retiring Assemblyman Bob Reilly, D-Colonie, helped Ellis officials on the state regulation end of the project, and Ellis’ Executive Vice President and COO Paul Milton and Vice President of Facilities Don McLaughlin oversaw planning and construction.
Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett called the facility a game changer for the region.
“This brings value to our community, and rounds out all of the community organizations that located here at Exit 9,” he said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is a great addition to the wonderful resurgence that we’ve seen here.”
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and state Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, also spoke at the ceremony, touting Ellis Medicine as on the cutting edge of efficient health care. Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, called the center the gold standard of regional health care.
He toured the facility before Friday’s ceremony and shared a few insights with the more than 100 community leaders and officials in attendance.
“I’ve never went into an emergency room and got out as quickly as I did today,” he said. “And I never went into an emergency room that I thought I might like to come back to someday. This is a facility that, without a doubt, is going to save lives. This is a facility that is not only going to save lives, but is going to keep people out of the hospital.”