Three days into the New Year, if all goes well, the dermatology, dental and five other clinics from Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo will reopen in a new outpatient center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
It is the first of four planned, staggered moves for the pediatric hospital in 2017.
They will conclude in November with the complicated task of shifting inpatient services and the emergency department over in just one day from Children’s longtime home on Bryant Street to the new hospital now under construction on Ellicott Street.
Hospital officials say the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and the adjoining Oishei Children’s Outpatient Center, built at a cost of $270 million, are designed to provide a better experience to patients, their families and staff.
“I can’t wait to be in the new hospital,” said Allegra Jaros, president of Women & Children’s Hospital.
The 11-month transition from Bryant Street to the Medical Campus begins Jan. 3 with the move of the first seven outpatient clinics and their 50 employees. The outpatient center is going into the Conventus building, a medical office and research building at 1001 Main St. that is adjacent to the new hospital.
Children’s Hospital already has sent notices to patients and has begun scheduling procedures in the new space.
“Most of the equipment is in the new space and ready to go,” Jaros said. Workers got an orientation tour of the outpatient clinic space in Conventus on Thursday.
Eight more clinics will move over on April 3, followed by the final 21 outpatient clinics in October. Jaros said the last group includes those outpatient services that are most closely tied to the inpatient services offered at the hospital.
Putting all of the outpatient clinics in one location gives specialists the chance to interact with each other, Jaros said, and offers patients and their families easy access to clinic check-in, examination, surgery and recovery rooms. The current clinic setup in the existing Children’s Hospital often requires patients and their families to move around from floor to floor.
Two services that are moving over to Conventus, blood draw and pharmacy, will continue to be offered at the hospital’s current campus until the final move.
The last phase in November, the move of the inpatient services and the emergency department, is the most complicated, Jaros said.
It will take place over the course of one day, which hasn’t been picked yet, with ambulances taking pediatric patients from Bryant Street to the Medical Campus.
She said Kaleida Health had experience with the closing of Millard Fillmore Hospital, Gates Circle, and the shift of services to Buffalo General Medical Center and the Gates Vascular Institute on the Medical Campus in 2012.
But Jaros said this will be the opening of the first new, free-standing hospital in the area since Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, in Amherst, in 1974.
“I don’t take it lightly, what a critical day that will be,” Jaros said.
The 12-story Oishei Children’s Hospital is smaller than the existing Children’s Hospital, but is designed to use space more efficiently. It is 410,000 square feet and has 185 beds.
Workers broke ground on the Oishei Children’s Hospital at 818 Ellicott St. in fall 2014 and expect to finish construction late next year.
The hospital building is about 80 percent complete now, Jaros said, and crews will start bringing key pieces of medical equipment into the operating rooms and the neonatal intensive care unit early next year.
The moves cap years of planning and construction that date to the late-1990s and early 2000s, when hospital administrators unsuccessfully tried to sell the community on the need for a new Children’s Hospital.
The public, politicians and doctors rallied against leaving the original Children’s Hospital, the state’s first stand-alone pediatric hospital that dates back to 1892, and plans for a move were postponed indefinitely in 2002.
However, they were revived later in the decade, this time with the backing of the medical staff and without the neighborhood opposition that marked the earlier attempt.
Children’s Hospital eventually unveiled plans for moving its outpatient surgery services into one facility and the inpatient and emergency departments into a new hospital.
Boston-based architectural firm Shepley Bulfinch conducted extensive planning into how the building would be used, including consulting with Kaleida Health officials, physicians, nurses and members of the public.
News Business Reporter David Robinson contributed to this report.