Rochester Regional Health has made changes to construction projects at two of its campuses to account for health care needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and potential future pandemics.
The health care system accelerated the opening of a critical care facility at its Rochester General Hospital campus by several weeks to prepare for a possible surge of COVID-19 in the fall.
If a rise in cases of the disease coincides with the onset of the seasonal flu, Rochester Regional administrators said they could be caught flat-footed without planning ahead.
The facility will open in stages, a spokesperson for the health care system said. Operating rooms and a post-acute care unit will open Oct. 12, and a neonatal intensive care unit on Oct. 20.
The seven-story structure is designed to alleviate pressure on the RGH emergency department, which administrators said was running out of room even before the COVID-19 outbreak reached the Rochester area.
Similarly, plans for a new emergency department at the Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic were also modified to better contain highly contagious disease outbreaks.
Rochester Regional Health eastern region president Dr. Dustin Riccio said project leaders had to consider how many more isolation and negative-pressure rooms they would need to treat patients safely.
Plans for the planned $2.2 million emergency department in Clifton Springs were originally designed in response to growing numbers of patients there, Riccio said. Wait times were growing.
“People don’t want to be in the emergency department. People don’t like to wait. They don’t like waiting in the waiting rooms; they don’t like waiting for their provider,” Riccio said.
“We’re essentially trying to create an environment that they don’t mind waiting in as well as improving the workflow so that their wait time is completely minimized.”
Riccio said the additional space created by building a new emergency department will allow staff to get patients to treatment faster.
Rochester Regional Health said it expects the facility to open in early 2022.