June 07, 2006

Expansion Plan Set for Approval

Peconic Bay Medical Center's plan to expand may soon become reality: the Riverhead Town board was set to approve the medical center's site plan at yesterday's meeting.

The board members gave their tentative approval by signing the plan during their work session last Thursday. The support came after a brief discussion on the plan.

Board members were particularly concerned about parking for the expansion. They feared the plan may be underestimating the number of parking spaces that will be needed. However, Andrew Mitchell, CEO/executive director of the medical center, assured that the parking that will be provided is within the confines of the town code.

Once built out, 260 parking spots will be provided. The medical center is also looking to work out an agreement with Mercy High School for additional parking.

The board members also expressed hesitancy over the height of the expansion, but Peter Danowski, attorney for the medical center, explained that there was some miscommunication and that the medical center's plan will comply with a zoning board of appeals decision that provided a height variance for the medical center's plan. At the highest point, the expansion will reach 42 feet.

Mitchell was pleased with the town board's tentative approval of the expansion plan. He said a groundbreaking would now be scheduled for early July.

The medical center's approximate $50 million plan calls for a 60,000 foot addition that will house a first-time ob/gyn "new life center," a 10,000 square foot addition to the emergency room that will include 20 private rooms for patients, and a separate division to accommodate Riverhead's prison inmate population.

The new emergency room space, as previously reported, will allow the hospital to register patients at their bedside rather than in a designated registration area. It will also provide patients with more privacy and will allow for a triage policy that separates those with "lumps and bumps" from more severe emergencies. Mitchell said: "Those with sore throats and sprains won't have to see blood and guts."

It is anticipated that the entire project will be complete by 2008.

This will not be the first addition to the emergency center. In 2001, some 190 volunteers doubled the size of facility to 12,000 square feet. The volunteers saved the hospital about $100,000.

That, however, won't be the case this time. According to Mitchell, the hospital will be financing a large portion of the project, which will also be supported by a capital fundraising campaign.

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