Tonawanda News

March 10, 2013

KMH plans to expand again

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Kenmore Mercy Hospital is planning to add two operating rooms in yet another expansion to the Elmwood Avenue facility.

The hospital’s existing eight operating rooms will also be renovated as part of the project, Kenmore Mercy President and CEO James Millard said.

”We are looking to enlarge two of the eight we have now, and upgrade the finishes and aesthetics to all of the rooms,” he said. 

The new rooms will be 600 square feet, bigger than most of the existing eight. Millard said the need for space was the main motivator for the project. 

”Based on the types of procedures we do, there is a lot of equipment needed. We do MAKO robotic surgery that is used in orthopedics ... with all that equipment, we needed more room,” Millard said.

The project, which will cost $3.8 million, is also a result of increased demand at the hospital. Millard said more physicians want to come work at Kenmore Mercy, and more patients are seeking care at the hospital.

The new operating rooms will be added to the rows of the existing rooms on the first floor near the center of the hospital. The application for the project was sent to the state about a month ago.

Millard hopes to hear back and get approval for the project in a few months.

”In the meantime, we are putting out all the architectural drawings and getting ready to put the project out to bid,” Millard said.

Construction will likely begin in the summer, and will hopefully be completed by the end of 2013 or early 2014. 

Construction on the hospital’s new emergency department and orthopedics unit is also moving along. The roof on the structure has been installed and contractors are working on the interior of the two additions.

”We have had some really good luck with the weather,” Millard said.

The new ER will have 25 rooms, compared to 18 in the old facility, and is designed to handle 40,000 visits a year. It will be equipped with a centralized nursing station, a drive-up ambulance bay, two resuscitation rooms and digital radiology equipment.

Millard said the ER will be operational by July.

The $5.7 million orthopedics unit will be composed of a 15,300-square-foot facility, right above the new emergency department on the south wing of the hospital.

The second-floor facility will house 24 spacious private rooms, a staff lounge and two nurse stations, as well as a rehabilitative gym for therapy purposes.

The decision to expand the unit came as a result of high demand for orthopedic services in the area. The hospital has performed 2,500 surgeries a year and over half of those are inpatient, overnight procedures, including a great deal of total hip and knee replacements.

The orthopedics unit will likely be finished in August, Millard said.

But the expansions have come with some controversy as of late, as the union that represents many of the Kenmore Mercy nurses say the hospital is trying to reduce the employees’ benefits and incentives while spending millions on construction projects. 

Communications Workers of America Local 1133 is still negotiating the contract with hospital officials, but nurses have already voted the contract down once. Another vote is scheduled for March 19. 

“Members of the bargaining committee and others also want to make it very clear that March 19th vote is a ‘strike’ vote. Do not vote ‘no’ unless you intend to go out on strike for a significant length of time,” the CWA website says. 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150