BY JON CRONIN
Elmhurst Hospital is planning a $30 million, 10,000-square-foot expansion of its emergency department that could be finished one year earlier than expected if the state Senate passes a bill to allow city agencies to build faster.
The bill would allow the city’s departments of Design and Construction, Transportation, and Health and Hospitals Corporation to use an alternative delivery method known as design-build procurement.
Israel Rocha, the CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, explained that the bill would streamline projects in such a way that it would chop one year off the medical center’s projected three-year project and cut $1.2 million from the bottom line that could be put back into patient services. The hospital hopes to start breaking ground in the winter.
“Design-build contracting saves money by eliminating time in procuring design services separately from construction services, and by making a single entity responsible for a project, reducing the possibility of contract claims related to design errors or omissions,” a spokeswoman for the hospital said.
The state Senate ended its session last week and will begin a special session next week. Rocha said that he hopes this bill, which is sponsored by state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island), finds its way onto the legislative body’s agenda. The state Assembly has already passed the bill.
Rocha said that foundation plans for the full renovation of the emergency department have already been submitted, but the hospital wants to have its construction documents completed once this bill is passed.
The project would add another floor to the hospital’s emergency department; increase the number of treatment bays from 48 to 80; and add nursing support areas, five additional isolation rooms and centralized radiology services.
Rocha said that the hospital will construct the department in parts. It will first add a second floor to the ER, move the psychiatric emergency department and add an innovative clinic that would reduce psychiatric admissions to the hospital, instead treating them as outpatients.
Rocha said that this would leave the hospital enough room to reconstruct in sections on the first floor. A total of $20 million is expected to be spent on construction, while equipment and clinic costs are estimated at $10 million.
Atiya Butler, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said that the project is also intended to lower the hospital’s ER wait times. The hospital is one of the busiest in the nation, and its trauma center serves all of western Queens.
“Our ER wait times are in line with other New York City public hospitals, with the average wait time being around 75 minutes,” she said.
She noted that patients with serious medical conditions have brief wait times—or do not have to wait at all.
“We have several initiatives currently taking place to reduce wait times and bring the average wait down to below 62 minutes, which is the national average for urban ERs,” Butler said.
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