Wynn Hospital begins to take shape in downtown Utica

UTICA – In hopes of being able to admit patients in the third quarter of 2023, work continues at the Mohawk Valley Health System’s Wynn Hospital in the LaFayette Street neighborhood.

Construction of the regional medical center began in late 2019 and is expected to be completed in July 2023.

Now a little more than halfway through, the site is busy every day with around 400+ construction workers a day, and the constant movement of machinery and the noise of power tools keep the site active.

Moreover, “there is mud. There is water. It’s a construction site,” Mohawk Valley Health System Executive Vice President of Real Estate and Facilities Robert Scholefield said during a recent tour of the project.

As he speaks on such a tour, he organically leads his visitors to the heart of the complex – the Central Utilities Factory – a place that houses the major utilities that inject life into the 10-story hospital and 672,000 square feet.

From the plant, miles of heating, ventilation, plumbing and electrical lines extend to supply the downtown hospital campus. Scholefield also added that the factory will be the landing site for all supplies shipped to the hospital once it is operational.

What’s inside

Although still a work in progress, the interior floor plan is now visible and the interior spaces can be enjoyed.

There are no dark corners at Wynn Hospital. The large amounts of window glass lend themselves to a peaceful natural light experience that will also allow patients to heal faster, Scholefield said.

A circular room on the first floor draws the sanctuary of the hospital.

“It’s a place to ‘think.’ Mourn. Worry,” Scholefield said. But also a place to find comfort and overcome difficulties, whatever their belief system. A place to gain hope.

The design of the new hospital aims to provide patients with a new and cutting-edge experience. The hospital’s main entrance will welcome patients into a two-story check-in ready lobby with security checkpoints.

“It’s a nice big welcoming space,” Scholefield said.

Since construction began, Scholefield has visited the site several times a week.

“Every day there is something new,” he said as he entered through a makeshift temporary construction door. “I make sure things go according to plan…often things don’t always go to plan.”

For example, at the start of construction, a decision had to be made to save labor, which led to the construction of bathrooms in patient rooms by a Florida company and their transport by truck to the site for installation.

During the pandemic, Scholefield said MVHS has already had time to grow mentally and form a kinship with the establishment.

As the interior is integrated and floor plans come to life, hospital staff have been able to visualize the effectiveness of workstation equipment and placement and make plans for future public health crises in terms of features that can be converted or repurposed for additional uses or additional work. the spaces.

Looking to the future, Scholefield said there is room for the hospital to grow and change even from the inside, without even having to add square footage.

This planning work brought to life simple hospital tours for medical staff even before it was completed.

The result is that all patients (all of whom will have private rooms) and equipment will be where they should be, — from placing patients in operating theaters to providing closets for staff.

In addition, the layout of each floor makes it easy to isolate and control the flow of staff and patients if necessary.

As construction progressed, MVHS brought in groups of employees from St. Elizabeth and Faxton-St. Lukes Hospital across the facility to show them where they will work and get them used to the idea that one day everyone will be working under the same roof.

“A lot of them have never worked together before,” Scholefield said of the currently split staff.

With the planned move of all staff to Wynn Hospital when complete, St. Elizabeth and Faxton-St. The Luke campuses are for sale, hospital officials said in a separate Daily Sentinel interview for an annual regional trade publication.

Moving forward

In the latest developments on the project, a 30-year, $30.9 million bond resolution for a downtown hospital parking lot was approved at a meeting of the Oneida County Legislative Council on Wednesday, March 9. , which paves the way for a parking lot with a helipad to be built next to the hospital.

The estimated maximum total cost of the project is $50.9 million, additional non-bonded costs will be funded by $10 million in grants and $10 million guaranteed by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

County officials said construction of the four-level, 1,350-space garage is expected to begin in mid-May and be completed in October 2023.

There are buildings that would need to be demolished to make way for the structure, and a prominent estate court hearing is scheduled for the end of March to address the legal aspects of that issue, Scholefield said.

Bids for the parking garage project are expected to open in mid-April, county lawmakers said at Wednesday’s meeting.

The intention is to have the garage completed by the time the hospital is ready to receive patients.

“The first day we have patients here, our own nurses will have a place to park,” Scholefield pointed out.

Challenges

Scholefield said that in addition to building a hospital during the pandemic, the project has seen well-publicized roadblocks from community groups who have spoken out in opposition that the downtown area is the best place for the third hospital in replacement to be built in New York State over the past 30 years.

Reasons for opposition ranged from whether a new hospital was even needed, its location relative to public infrastructure, and whether there were implications for the site’s health and safety, neighborhood aesthetics, and the displacement of existing owners through an eminent domain legal process. All of this has been highlighted in court proceedings in recent years.

In a recent court proceeding regarding the parking lot, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. announced that one of the lawsuits filed against the county by petitioners in the footprint of the future public parking lot of the Wynn Hospital had been rejected by the New York. State Supreme Court Appellate Division, Fourth Department.

In a Dec. 23, 2021 ruling, the Appeals Division’s Fourth Judicial Department dismissed claims by plaintiffs in the lawsuit — Brett Truett, Joseph Cerini, and 418 Lafayette Street Corporation — that the county failed to meet requirements. of SEQRA by condemning their properties by eminent domain.

The court further determined that Oneida County had the authority to condemn the petitioners’ properties through eminent domain, that the acquisition of the properties will be for public use, and that the procedure was in accordance with the Constitution.

Other items

Addressing another point of skepticism, Scholefield said that to ensure the hospital fits in with the character of its neighborhood, designers chose brick colors that are a nod to older structures in the neighborhood. ; while other parts of the hospital are more metallic and modern in nature, and are a nod to other development projects such as the Wolfspeed silicon carbide manufacturing plant in Marcy which has been in construction around the same time as the hospital.

Scholefield said that at first there were labor issues with the two projects coming out of the ground at the same time.

But, it worked, and soon, and in the not too distant future, the region will benefit from bringing both projects online.

From one spot in the new hospital, the view extends to the hills of Marcy and Wolfspeed is in sight.

By the numbers

-The Mohawk Valley Health System plans to employ 3,000 to 3,500 medical professionals at the hospital when it is complete.

-MVHS received a $300 million grant from New York State in 2017 to create an integrated health care delivery system in Oneida County and opened the downtown Utica site in December 2019.

-The 25-acre campus of Wynn Hospital – combines the region’s two aging acute care hospitals.

-Wynn Hospital’s new emergency room will include 63 treatment rooms and specialized trauma care. Its new emergency room design will support 90,000 visits per year.

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