Medical Center Debuts New ER

After 18 months of construction and renovation, Nassau University Medical Center will unveil its new $36 million Emergency Department Monday night. 

The project, which began in December 2009, has transformed the once drab and colorless East Meadow trauma care center into a bright and spacious wing with state­of-the-art technology. It opens for patients on May 31 after midnight and those needing emergency care should come through the Hempstead Turnpike entrance.

"This was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix what needed to be fixed," said Arthur Gianelli, president and chief executive of the NuHealth System, which manages the medical center, during a preview tour last week. "This puts us in a position where we can be competitive," with other area hospitals. 

The new 27,000-square-foot department, converted from old classrooms and a 1,000 -seat cafeteria, is triple the size of the old ER. It has 32 glass-enclosed treatment bays, a large trauma room, two resuscitation rooms, a biohazard decontamination chamber and a crisis intervention center for sexual abuse victims. 

Other renovations at the 531-bed hospital, which opened in 1974, include expanded diagnostic services, with a $2-million, 320­slice computed tomography scanner, the most powerful X-ray imaging machine in its class. The device is one of only two on Long Island; the other is at Stony Brook University Medical Center. 

The Emergency Department, which handled 73,000 patient visits in 2010, also looks dramatically better. Out are the dull brown walls and poor quality lighting. In their place are a white and gray color scheme, natural lighting and a revamped front entranceway with additional seating.

Funding for the project came from several sources. A state health care program grant provided about $16 million. Those funds required a hospital match of $7 million, which came from the Nassau County Tobacco Securitization, a one-time payment by cigarette makers to reimburse states for health care costs related to smoking.

Another $13 million came from borrowed capital funds, while the new crisis center was funded through a $200,000 federal grant obtained by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola).

Meanwhile, construction union officials praised the development as a boon for Long Island's sagging building industry. The project created nearly 150 jobs for building trade union members; about 25 percent of the work went to women and minority-owned businesses, Gianelli said.

Article By: Robert Brodsky