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DeGraff Memorial plans $7.8 million expansion of emergency department

Kaleida Health plans to double the size of DeGraff Memorial Hospital’s emergency department.

The $7.8 million project, if approved by the state Department of Health, would be the first renovation of the North Tonawanda hospital’s emergency department since 1975.

“With an aging population in the Northtowns, more chronic conditions in the ED and a changing health care landscape, we must do all that we can to increase our capacity to treat patients experiencing illness and life-threatening emergencies,” Kaleida Health CEO Jody L. Lomeo said in a statement Wednesday announcing the project.

The plan calls for relocating the department from the west side of DeGraff’s campus to the east side, which faces the Twin Cities Memorial Highway. That would allow for better access and parking for patients and visitors, Kaleida Health said.

The expansion would double the emergency department from 4,800 square feet to 10,000 square feet.

“With a new location and added space comes the opportunity to implement the most efficient processes for staff productivity which equates to better patient care,” Dr. Jill Pawlowski, DeGraff’s site director for emergency medicine, said in the statement.

The new department would include 17 treatment bays, a trauma room, a dedicated bariatric room and an airborne isolation room. It would also include decontamination space for infectious diseases.

Kaleida Health officials said the design includes features to accommodate geriatric patients: non-glare lighting, flooring to prevent slips, larger family spaces and signs with oversized letters.

The hospital system soon will submit its plans for approval to the state Department of Health with the intention of beginning work on the project early next year.

Most of the region’s other large hospitals have completed, or soon will begin, renovations to their emergency departments.

Erie County Medical Center in May announced plans for an expanded, $45 million emergency department, which will be built to the side of the existing department on its Grider Street campus in Buffalo. Officials from ECMC, the region’s adult level 1 trauma center, said they planned later this year to launch a capital campaign to raise money to help cover the cost of the new department and late this year or early next year to file detailed plans on the project with the Health Department.

Among other recent upgrades, Catholic Health System in 2010 opened a $31.5 million renovation of the emergency room at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, with the new facility four times the size of the old department. In 2013, the system’s Kenmore Mercy unveiled a $14 million renovation of its emergency department.

email: swatson@buffnews.com

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