Published in the Staten Island Advance: Saturday, April 09, 2011, 1:18 AM
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- When a new ambulatory care center was first imagined for the hospital in West Brighton, the facility was on the cusp of a transition to new owners and was struggling with financial uncertainty.
Now that Richmond University Medical Center has reclaimed its status as a linchpin of Staten Island’s health care network, the dream for the Ambulatory Care and Endoscopy Center has been realized, hospital leadership said yesterday during an emotional groundbreaking ceremony for the $6 million upgrade.
We are going to develop the finest ambulatory care and endoscopy center on Staten Island," said Richard Murphy, president and CEO of the hospital.
The 14,000-square-foot center, to be constructed in space adjoining the lobby, will receive some 10,000 visits a year from Staten Islanders. Those coming for outpatient procedures will be prepped and recover in the state-of-the-art facility, which will be outfitted with $1 million in new equipment.
Also housed in the unit will be the gastroenterology department, where physicians will perform high-tech surveys of the esophagus, colon and other screening procedures.
"The Ambulatory Care Center and Endoscopy will be able to respond to the high rate of cancer in the community," said Dr. Daniel Paulo, president of the medical staff.
The facility should be complete in about nine months — about the same amount of time state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) waited before he rushed to the hospital to witness the births of his three children. (Not to be outdone, Assemblyman Michael Cusick [D-Mid-Island] said he himself was born in the hospital, and Assemblyman Lou Tobacco [R-South Shore] topped them both with the revelation that he and his four children were born there.)
"This will afford the opportunity for the genius and the dedication of the hospital staff to be matched with state-of-the-art and cutting-edge technology," said Lanza. "It will really allow them to be blessed with what they’ve been able to do, and that is to prolong and to save lives on Staten Island, and really to improve the quality of life on Staten Island."
Board of trustees chairwoman Kathryn Rooney thanked Lanza for fulfilling the $800,000 pledge made by the late state Sen. John Marchi toward the center, even when the hospital’s prospects seemed bleak.
The Richmond County Savings Foundation and the Staten Island Foundation also awarded grants toward the new facility. A portion of a $12 million state HEAL grant will also go, in part, toward costs.
"The care is going to be superb," said Dr. Sherif Farag, the chief of gastroenterology, praising his department of 10 full-time doctors, 16 nurses and three technicians for the good work they already do in their current offices, in overseeing some 7,000 visits a year.
Showing off brand-new equipment that can produce vivid visuals of the inside of the digestive system that will be part of the new center, he said, "This is vital to making critical decisions on the care of patents."