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Eastern Niagara Hospital plans bigger emergency department

Eastern Niagara Hospital plans to triple the size of its emergency department as part of an $8.2 million building project announced Wednesday.

The Lockport hospital said it intends to erect a two-story structure near the entrance of its building at 521 East Ave., with the new emergency department on the ground floor.

Plans call for the second floor to include doctors' offices and outpatient mental health facilities.

Hospital spokeswoman Carolyn Moore said the project still requires formal approval from the state Health Department.

She said the hospital expects to break ground for the new 21,000-square-foot building in late 2018, and it would take about a year to build.

The hospital already has been approved for a $5.9 million state grant to pay for most of the cost, with the hospital covering the rest.

"The need to replace the emergency department has been a top priority for the hospital," said George V.C. Muscato, the Lockport attorney who chairs the hospital's board of directors. "This will be a significant benefit for our community, and the board is extremely pleased to authorize this plan and make this project a reality."

Moore said the current emergency department has 12 treatment rooms, with less patient privacy than the new facility would offer.

"The last time the emergency department was renovated was in 1981," Moore said.

Plans for the new emergency department, covering more than 10,000 square feet, call for 16 treatment rooms, with space designated for orthopedics, trauma and child psychiatric evaluations.

"The design would allow our medical professionals to provide the highest level of care with full observation of each patient room," said Dr. Leonard Franco, director of emergency services.

"The size of the new unit would also increase significantly, providing 7,725 square feet of additional space in the emergency department. This upgrade will also benefit our local (emergency medical service) providers, assisting them in a more expeditious transfer of patients," Franco said.

On the second floor of the new building, office space would be provided for the hospital's family medicine residency practice, along with space for medical specialists and outpatient mental health services.

"The need for primary care and specialty services continues to grow in our region," said Dr. Nicholas Varallo, the hospital's medical director. "These enhancements will make services more accessible and improve patient care throughout our entire system as we strive to provide optimum care for the community."

Moore said the hospital has yet to decide on how to reuse the current 3,800-square-foot emergency department on the ground floor of the 134-bed hospital.

Eastern Niagara Health System also owns the former Inter-Community Memorial Hospital in Newfane, now used as an urgent care, X-ray, dialysis and lab facility, and an outpatient surgery center in the Town of Lockport.

Moore said Eastern Niagara's Reflections inpatient substance abuse treatment center will move from the Lockport hospital to the Newfane site in mid-2018, and its size will be increased from 20 beds to 30.

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