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State OKs vertical expansion plan for University Hospital

The State Health Department has approved University Hospital's plan to build a $99 million, six-story addition that will include the Central New York Children's Hospital. The approval of the Certificate of Need allows University Hospital to sign contracts with architectural firms and begin formal design planning for the project.

"The approval by the State Health Department is a critically important as it continues the progress we are making in planning this much needed addition to our community," said Gregory L. Eastwood, M.D., president of SUNY Upstate Medical University, of which University Hospital is affiliated. "We are grateful for the support of Gov. Pataki, the State Health Department and all those involved in this project."

Ben Moore, executive director of University Hospital, said the project will be a great benefit to Central New York. "This project will enable University Hospital to deliver the most advanced patient care in the most 'patient-friendly' facility in the Central New York region," he said. "It will be a model for the finest in academic medicine and allow our physicians and staff to practice with the latest technology in the most effective and safest environment possible."

One of the highlights of the six-story vertical expansion, to be built on the east wing of University Hospital, is the Central New York Children's Hospital, which will be housed on the top two floors. It will feature 50 private patient rooms, family sleep and dining areas as well as playrooms and a family resource center, among other amenities. The addition will increase the amount of space dedicated to pediatric medicine at University Hospital from 18,000 square feet to 87,000.

"Central New York has taken another step closer to bringing a children's hospital to town," said Thomas Welch, M.D., chair of the Department of Pediatrics, of the state's approval.

In addition to the Children's Hospital, the vertical expansion will include floors dedicated to cardiovascular, neurology and oncology. They will include 46 private patient rooms with private baths and space to accommodate an overnight stay by a family member. Some special care areas, such as the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, will feature anterooms to guard against infection. One floor will be used to house the heating, ventilating and air cooling systems.

The total construction cost of the project is $92 million, adjusted for inflation, with project costs of $99.8 million, including interim interest expense.

University Hospital received the authority to finance the construction through bonding earlier this year when Gov. Pataki and the legislature approved bonding legislation.

Planning and design for the project could take between 12 to 18 months before construction begins. The addition is expected to be completed by December 2007.