CAPITAL REGION Ellis Medicine is approaching the last leg of a growth plan announced three years ago to transform itself into a regional medical provider.
With two of three major projects nearing completion, hospital officials say the multimillion-dollar investment has moved forward at a healthy pace without any major snags. And the community won’t just see results, but will make use of them as soon as November.
Ellis Medicine hopes to open its Clifton Park urgent care center Nov. 1 — at about the same time it expects to break ground on an expanded emergency room and new parking garage at its main campus.
“We want to get the community excited and involved,” said Chief Operating Officer Paul Milton.
To do that, the Schenectady-based provider is planning to hold an October groundbreaking ceremony at the main campus on Nott Street that will thank the community for its philanthropic contributions to the $61 million project.
It’s been nearly three years since Ellis announced a $78 million, three-tiered project that included renovations at Bellevue Woman’s Hospital and the main hospital on Nott Street and construction of the urgent care center in Clifton Park.
Milton said that once Ellis gets final approval from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, construction crews will begin about three months of prep work that includes asbestos removal and demolition of the hospital’s D wing, an unused building facing Rosa Road.
Crews will then begin the task of doubling the size of the hospital’s current 19,000 square-foot emergency room, which will fit 60 rooms as opposed to the current 47. The ER will remain open while construction occurs, with renovations to that space only occurring once the expansion is finished.
“If you’ve ever been in there, you notice that it’s somewhat disjointed in the way its laid out,” said Milton. “So the new facility will be a state-of-the-art emergency department that is well laid out and much more efficient. There’s privacy with the private rooms, it will be less cluttered with less noise and commotion.”
In the meantime, a three-level parking garage will go up in the current ER parking lot facing Rosa Road. This will increase the number of parking spaces from 118 to 208. A parking garage already stands on the Nott Street side of the hospital.
The expanded ER will accommodate 80,000 visits a year, as opposed to the current 50,000. Milton anticipates a mid-2014 opening, at which time the hospital’s McClellan Street emergency department (which accommodates about 30,000 visits a year) will become an urgent care center.
Part of the $61 million project is financed by HUD and includes a hospital-wide upgrade to the electrical system.
Urgent care center
Ellis will make its physical debut in Saratoga County in less than three months. The Nov. 1 opening of its Clifton Park urgent care center is just a few final touches away.
“I walked through it the other day, and they’re to the point where they’re sheet rocking and wallpapering and this week even paving the parking lot,” said Milton.
Interestingly, the urgent care center on Sitterly Road just south of the Clifton Park Center will essentially be a freestanding emergency department. But officials are hesitant to call it that after the state Department of Health blocked stand-alone emergency rooms, labeling them redundant.
Instead, it will be considered an “enhanced” urgent care center with ER capacity and approximately 40 ER-trained doctors and nurses. On the second floor of the 38,000-square-foot facility will be offices for specialty physicians including orthopedics, cardiology, neurology and neurosurgery, general surgery and primary care.
“All of our staffing is in place, and we have a great group of talented people that are really excited to go work in this facility,” said Milton. “Some of them are up there already and relocating to this facility, some of them are new, and some of them are Ellis loyal physicians.”
Groundbreaking was last September. Ellis is leasing the space from Columbia Development and the Galesi Group and won’t officially take over the facility until the end of September. The project will cost Ellis $3 million for equipment and furnishings, according to earlier reports. Columbia Development and the Galesi Group are spending $10 million overall.
Electricians, plumbers and construction workers are toiling away right now at the Bellevue Woman’s Center, working to complete a 32,000-square-foot addition.
The building should be done by the end of the year, said Milton. But part of the $16.8 million project includes renovations to the center’s existing lobby and nurses’ station, which he said will take until September 2013 to complete.
As brickwork begins this week on the outside of the Bellevue addition and aesthetic features come together on the Clifton Park center, there’s growing excitement among hospital officials who wondered just how Ellis Medicine would evolve with the region’s growing health needs.
“We feel like we’re really doing what this community needs,” said Milton. “I think we’ve really addressed the needs of this community in an excellent way. If they can get the services they need here, then we’re doing our job.”