WXXI AM News

Construction nears completion on new facility at Rochester General Hospital

Jan 28, 2020

More than 600 miles of wire snake through the seven-floor structure of Rochester Regional Health’s Sands-Constellation Center for Critical Care.

Ralph Pennino, the chair of surgery at Rochester Regional Health, and Kevin Casey, the president of Rochester General Hospital, ride an elevator to the top of the construction site at Rochester Regional's new center for critical care.
Credit Max Schulte / WXXI News

The health care provider said it’s running out of room in its current facilities, and the new space opening up here, off Portland Avenue right next to Rochester General Hospital, will ease the pressure on the structure and staff there.

“We’re busting at the seams,” said hospital president Kevin Casey. “At this time two weeks ago, we had over 60 patients in our emergency room who were boarding.”

Emergency room boarding happens when a patient is admitted to the hospital but cannot yet be transferred out of the emergency room. It’s a leading cause of hospital overcrowding, and the American College of Emergency Physicians says it “represents a failure of inpatient bed management” and contributes to lower quality of care and decreased patient safety.

Casey said improvements in medical care actually lead to increased need for hospital beds: Health problems that would have been fatal in the past are now survivable -- with intensive medical support.

Scaffolding covers the exterior of the courtyard at the construction site of the future Sands-Constellation Center for Critical Care at Rochester General Hospital.
Credit Max Schulte / WXXI News

Lifesaving medical care, combined with an aging population locally, means the Rochester area needs more health care facilities, he said.

Rochester Regional said the Sands-Constellation center will house several types of patient care, including surgical space, cancer care, and an intensive care unit for infants.

The patient rooms are being built to modern expectations, Casey said. They include space for visitors, internet connectivity and large windows.

“All of these things are important for patient care,” he said. “They’re not just luxuries. People heal better when they’re feeling comfortable.”

Rochester Regional said construction of the $260 million center will not affect costs for patients.

Spokesperson Veronica Chiesi-Brown said funding comes through a combination of philanthropic gifts and bond financing.

The building’s grand opening is scheduled for September. Until then, a daily team of more than 200 workers will be installing ventilation and plumbing, hanging drywall, and mounting medical equipment.

“It’s not simple,” senior project manager Mike Morris said with a laugh. “It’s a lot. A lot of work.”