Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Erie County Medical Center on Thursday officially broke ground for a new $103 million, 390-bed nursing home on the ECMC Health Campus on Grider Street.
The new long-term care facility, which will open in December 2012, replaces the 80-year-old Erie County nursing home in Alden. It also combines in one location existing long-term care beds from Alden and ECMC.
The move from Alden to ECMC’s Health Campus focuses on providing higher quality, state-of-the-art care for residents. It also moves residents closer to family, increases access to employment for Buffalo and suburban residents, and reduces operating costs for ECMC Corp.
“Moving our county home residents to a new, modern facility at ECMC will benefit residents, our employees and will provide better, more efficient care,” said Jody L. Lomeo, ECMC’s CEO. “This is something the state has supported for many years, and now we’re making it happen.”
Medicaid reimburses a portion of the construction costs, which is dependent upon the number of residents that receive Medicaid each year. The project is financed through bonding advanced by the Erie County executive and approved by the Erie County Legislature. The bonds will be sold through the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority and this borrowing structure saved ECMC Corp. $118 million in interest expense by reducing the interest rate and the repayment period to 15 years from 30. Erie County will pay $11.5 million of the construction costs through an agreement reached with ECMC in 2009. ECMC officials estimate the new facility will reduce current operating losses by 60 percent.
In addition, according to current resident and employee censuses, residents’ families and nursing home workers will find the new home much more convenient. Of 430 current residents, 247 are from Buffalo ZIP codes, with another 51 from first-ring suburbs like Kenmore, West Seneca, Cheektowaga and Amherst. Also, 128 employees are from Buffalo, and another 178 are from first-ring suburbs.
“We’re extremely proud of the innovative work happening at ECMC,” said Sharon Hanson, president of the ECMC Corp. board. “Having the support of our partners, New York State, Erie County and the control board, makes it all possible. And what’s best is that our residents and employees benefit most.”
The new home will rise beside the new $27 million Regional Center of Excellence for Transplantation & Kidney Care, which is under construction beside the current hospital building.
The home and the center are part of a five-year, $150 million project on ECMC’s Health Campus that when complete will provide good-paying jobs and health-focused economic development centered in a section of Buffalo that has seen too little of both. The projects, which include demolition of eight buildings on the 65-acre ECMC property, will also support hundreds of construction workers’ jobs over the next 12-18 months.
ECMC’s long-term care facility will be one replacement facility for two existing long-term care sites it currently operates, making room on the hospital’s fifth and sixth floors for additional treatment areas.
Consolidation will provide efficiencies and provide residents with immediate access to medical care at the adjacent medical center. In the other direction, it will also permit convenient hospital discharges directly to the long-term care home. The new facility will be designed to provide a supportive environment for the resident-centered delivery of care model which ECMC intends to develop.
The existing facility at ECMC contains 126 skilled nursing beds and 10 ventilator beds. The nursing units in this 40-year-old facility mimic the acute care nursing units above and below and provide an institutional environment for residents.
The current facility in Alden holds 586 beds on three floors.
The new facility, for which current residents had design input, will be 275,500 square feet on five levels, plus a mechanical penthouse. It will contain three floors of 96 skilled nursing beds each; one floor containing 66 sub-acute rehab beds; and a 20-bed ventilator unit and 16-bed behavioral intervention unit on the ground floor, for a total of 390 beds. This will be a 332-bed reduction in bed count from the current 722 beds.
The ground floor is 67,700 square feet and will house the visitor’s lobby, public toilets, a gift shop, and administrative, nursing and business offices. The visitor’s lobby will double as a multi-purpose gathering space for residents’ special events. A café will provide restaurant-style food service for residents, visitors and staff. The dietary department includes a kitchen, storage, receiving, loading dock, dietary staff office and lockers.
One nursing unit, a 16-bed behavioral intervention unit, will be on the ground floor as well with direct access from the unit to a secure outdoor courtyard. This unit will be divided into two eight-bed households with private bedrooms.
The second, third and fourth floors are each 50,500 square feet. A floor consists of eight households for 12 residents. Each household will have two private rooms and five semi-private rooms. The semi-private rooms are divided by a partition so that each resident will have their own space and their own window.
Toilet rooms are large enough for a portable lift and staff assistance and are entered from the room’s vestibule. Residents will be able to see the dining/living space from their bedroom door, thus encouraging self-ambulation and socialization within the house.
In the household model, the kitchen and dining areas become the heart of the house, where residents, visitors and staff form a social unit that shares a common life. Dining room tables are used in between meals for games, coffee breaks and frosting cookies. Residents take ownership of their “home” and help set the table or fold laundry. Each household will have its own dining room and a living room with an electric fire place.
A residential-style serving kitchen situated between two household dining rooms will be equipped and stocked to provide some meal preparation, alternate meal selections and snacks. This type of meal delivery, where residents can smell food being cooked, choose what they want and even help to prepare for a meal, encourages proper nutrition.
The first floor is 51,300 square feet with six units of 11 beds each to house short-term rehabilitation patients. The units will differ from the long-term care units in that all bedrooms will be private and living/dining area will be smaller as rehab patients tend to prefer to dine in their rooms.
Physical and occupational therapy departments will be located on the first floor to reduce transport time.
The first floor will also house two 10-bed households for residents on ventilators. These households will have similar layouts to the other households but with 20 percent private rooms and added support space.
The building will be connected to the existing hospital and to other facilities on campus via a public corridor that will be used to transport nursing home residents in need of medical care, to the new dialysis unit and to the hospital.
Transformation of ECMC’s Health Campus, which now has 550 beds and had 60,000 ER patients in 2009, actually began in the last year. In June 2010, ECMC announced its expanded $2.9 million Emergency Department, with eight new trauma exam rooms and two new trauma surgical suites. The hospital performed 9,831 surgeries in 2009 and project that to grow to 11,500 in 2011.
ECMC is already home to the state’s top-rated Adult Regional Trauma Center and in May 2009 opened a refurbished 12th floor surgical wing with $725,000 worth of improvements. With an estimated overall economic impact on the region of $750 million, ECMC had total revenues in 2009 of $440 million.
In February, ECMC dedicated a Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center that will speed healing for trauma, surgical, diabetes and other slow-healing wounds in a unique facility for Western New York with six surgeons and three podiatrists.
An orthopedics center, including a Women’s Bone Health Center, will expand ECMC’s capabilities and further enhance the coordination of services between all of the Great Lakes Health centers.