Strong Memorial to undergo major expansion

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The project will add more than 200 examination/treatment and patient observation stations in phases to the Strong ED and Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program.
(Draft rendering: URMC)

Strong Memorial Hospital plans to triple the size of its emergency department and add more than 100 new, private inpatient rooms in a hefty expansion project.

A 175,000-square-foot emergency department, with access to more clinical space and all-private inpatient rooms, is in the cards, University of Rochester Medical Center officials say. The project will add more than 200 examination/treatment and patient observation stations in phases to the Strong ED and Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program. In total, the expansion will add more than 650,000 square feet of new hospital space.

Last year, the emergency department handled more than 110,000 patient visits, including more than 9,000 served by the CPEP team, in spaces designed to serve annual patient volumes less than half of that demand, officials say. An “ED North” expansion will create a larger, covered entrance to serve patients arriving by ambulance or private transportation, with a triage and registration area and larger waiting room. An 80,000-square-foot garage will provide more parking space for patients and families.

A new nine-story inpatient bed tower—scheduled for completion in 2027—will also add more emergency department space and floors for diagnostic and treatment services, along with more than 100 private inpatient rooms. The tower will be built west of the hospital entrance in a location that had facility departments and loading docks.

Construction costs for the new ED and patient tower are estimated at $557 million. The total project cost is expected to be $641 million, including demolition of existing structures and a new patient parking garage near the emergency department.

Both components of the project will help to address chronic bed shortages and ED overcrowding issues that the community has faced for years, which were further highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials say.

“Strong Memorial Hospital is a tremendous asset to our community, providing patients the most advanced medical services available in Upstate New York, regardless of their ability to pay,” says UR president Sarah Mangelsdorf. “Educationally, it is a powerful medical-center asset to have a large teaching hospital integrated physically with our three professional schools for clinicians, and the research labs where medical discoveries are made. This project will represent a critical investment in modernizing our community’s and our region’s largest hospital for 21st century needs.”

The new tower is expected to become one of the most advanced treatment facilities for patients with cardiovascular disease. URMC plans to design clinical space to serve these patients, consolidating cardiovascular services on adjacent floors to improve efficiency and add convenience for patients, clinicians and staff, says URMC CEO Mark Taubman, M.D. 

The expansion project will be the most comprehensive modernization project since the current patient tower was completed in 1975, says Steven Goldstein, CEO and president of Strong Memorial and Highland hospitals. 

Most floors in the current patient tower will begin undergoing renovations during construction of the new tower, so that all patients will have modern, private rooms, he adds. 

The project is being designed by Ballinger Architects, which also designed the Golisano Children’s Hospital tower.

The expansion plans—subject to change—await approval from the UR Board of Trustees and the state Department of Health.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor.

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