Groundbreaking kicks off RUMC's new $62M ER project
By Rachel Shapiro | firstname.lastname@example.org
on September 12, 2016 at 3:00 PM
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – A $62.5 million project to build a bigger, better emergency room at Richmond University Medical Center in West Brighton kicked off Monday morning with a groundbreaking ceremony.
The elegant affair, complete with a trio of musicians playing gently in the background as waiters passed around hors d'oeuvres, attracted hospital administrators, politicians, members of community and non-profit groups, nurses and doctors.
The new facility will be named after former Borough President James Molinaro, who has been a board member since 1980 when the hospital was St. Vincent's, and who helped secure funding for the institution.
While the new facility is being built, the existing overburdened emergency room will remain open. Once the new building is completed, the old space will be retrofitted for other uses.
Two buildings — the Dean Fitzpatrick Building and the annex to the Garner mansion — will come down to make way for the new facility.
Construction is expected to begin before the end of the year and take approximately two years to complete.
With a goal of raising $10 million of the $62.5 million in the first year, the hospital and its partners have raised $9.4 million. The price tag will be paid for through a combination of private donations, city and state funding and financing.
The Richmond County Savings Foundation donated funds for a new trauma center in the new ER to be named after the late Dr. William C. Frederick, a vascular surgeon at RUMC and founding board member of the foundation.
While the current emergency department is designed to care for 22,000 patients annually, it actually takes in 65,000 patients per year, hence the need for a larger space.
One of the many people speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony was Councilwoman Debi Rose, who helped secure capital funding from the city.
"Unfortunately I know firsthand what it is like in the ER ... I realized they were not exaggerating — we really need a new ER," she said. "They have outgrown the ER many years ago."
Daniel Messina, president and CEO of the hospital, explained the new features of the coming emergency department.
It will include a trauma bay that fits the hospital's status as a Level 1 Trauma Center, as well as space for both adult and pediatric urgent care units, more than 60 private treatment rooms, better ambulance access, flood-and-storm-resistant architecture and more.
Both state Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblyman Michael Cusick remarked that it was the persistence of Kathryn Krause Rooney, chairwoman of the board at RUMC, that brought in state funding for the hospital.
Previously special counsel to Sen. John Marchi for more than 30 years, Rooney's experience helped identify the funds and successfully secure them, Savino said.
"We get a lot of applause for getting state funding ... but I have to tell you, your president of the board is hard to say 'no' to," Cusick said.
"It's very hard to say 'no' to Kate Rooney and in many cases, she will tell you where the money is that we can ask to get," he added, to laughter.
Noting there is no city hospital on Staten Island, the city should be helping the two hospitals pay for care, Savino said.
"We believe we're entitled to it as a matter of law and we're not going to give up till we get it," she said.
Molinaro stressed that while the hospital is referred to as the "North Shore hospital," it has been shown to be "a hospital of Staten Island," he said, after Hurricane Sandy, when people from Tottenville, Great Kills, Prince's Bay and elsewhere came to the facility when Staten Island University Hospital was damaged.
"This is a hospital for all of Staten Island, for good times and bad times," he said.
Noting no city hospital on the Island, Molinaro said, "The city has ignored Staten Island for many, many, many years."
But later, he noted, capital money came to buy equipment.
After the long lineup of speakers took their turns at the podium, groups of people also took turns posing behind a small mound of dirt with shovels in their hands and hardhats on their heads.