Millard Suburban readies NICU expansion

July 9, 2014 Updated Jul 9, 2014 at 8:01 AM EDT

By Tracey Drury, Buffalo Business First Reporter- Business First

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Millard Suburban readies NICU expansion

July 9, 2014 Updated Jul 9, 2014 at 8:01 AM EDT

With state approvals in hand, Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital will begin a $13.6 million expansion project in the coming weeks, adding a 10-bed neonatal intensive care unit.

The project is part of a 30,632-square-foot expansion that will site atop the existing cardiac unit, with 13,192 square feet dedicated to the NICU. The remaining space is dedicated to mechanical needs and an adjacent nursing unit to be built in a later phase.

Plans have changed significantly since the project was first announced two years ago as a renovation of existing space. The project was expanded last summer into a three-story addition that would have included surgical and support rooms.

Scaling the project back in price and scope ensures it'll be completed sooner and makes more sense for the hospital, said Christopher Lane, hospital president.

"We took a step back and said 'what's the best way to get this project done in the most reasonable amount of time,'" he said. "With the new CEO coming in, we took a step back to make sure we were all on the same page."

The project represents the first major construction at Millard Suburban in nearly 10 years, when the Amherst campus saw an expanded emergency department and the addition of beds.

The 265-bed hospital is part of the larger Kaleida Health system, which also includes Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo. Lane said the NICU will serve as an affiliate program for the specialty services offered at Children's, allowing more babies born early to remain on-site, versus transferred to other hospitals.

"It's really like a hub and spoke model with Children's," he said. "Roughly 10 percent of our cases from are higher risk or sick and those are going elsewhere now. We mean to keep as many of them as we possibly can and make it easier for the patient."

Millard Suburban transfers an average of 142 high-risk infants each year to other hospitals in the region with NICU programs, including Women & Children's, with 64 certified NICU beds; Mercy Hospital, with 15 beds; and Sisters of Charity, with 20 beds.

Officials hope to begin construction by late summer, with completion expected in 12-16 months, or by the end of 2015.

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