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Catholic Health System to present proposal for Mercy Hospital expansion to neighbors

Representatives of Catholic Health System will be meeting with neighbors of Mercy Hospital of Buffalo and South District Common Council member Christopher Scanlon to discuss concerns about a planned expansion of the hospital’s operating room space.

Catholic Health officials want to construct a 10,000-square-foot addition to the back of Mercy Hospital as part of a larger $14.8 million project that also includes renovation of 11,589 square feet of existing space to modernize the hospital’s cardiac surgery capabilities. The goal is to enhance the system’s cardiac program, which is based at Mercy and has seen growth in demand, in part because of the aging demographics of the region.

Most of the hospital’s emergency and operating rooms were built in the 1960s, when such rooms were general-purpose in nature and could be as small as 460 square feet, said Janet Faulhaber, system director for facility planning design and construction. Now, the standard for cardiac operating rooms is about 1,000 square feet, in light of more specialized needs and new technology such as robotic surgery, she said. Even regular operating rooms now average about 650 square feet. So the current rooms “do not meet our needs, especially for cardiac open-heart surgery,” she told the Buffalo Planning Board.

Plans call for creating a third, state-of-the-art operating room with 1,100 square feet, while abandoning a smaller one and turning it into storage. A loading dock would also be moved, but seven parking spaces would remain. As of now, the addition would be built with the same yellow brick of the existing hospital building but with red striated brick on the back facade that faces Lorraine Elementary School across Mercy Street. A backlit, translucent, frosted, plastic glass wall is also proposed.

Final details of the design are still being worked out, as officials will be meeting with neighbors and Scanlon to reach some consensus. But the hospital is hoping to get the foundation laid before winter so it can finish by the end of 2017 or early 2018.

The $9 million project, designed by Syracuse-based King & King Architects, already received approval from the state Health Department. “We are actually moving a bit faster than originally anticipated,” Faulhaber said.

The Planning Board tabled the project until after the hospital talks with neighbors. In other action, the board:

• Approved erection of an equipment storage facility for a landscaping company at 134 Skillen St.

• Recommended approval by the Common Council of a restaurant at 1146 Hertel Ave.

• Recommended approval by the Common Council of an outdoor cafe in front and along the side of the new Midtown Kitchen at 451 Elmwood Ave.