By Danny Schrafel
Demolition is underway at Huntington Hospital to clear the way for a major upgrade to the nearly 100-year-old hospital’s emergency room facilities.
Those demolition efforts are exploratory in nature, to “find the infrastructure and all the other utilities that might hinder the present design,” a Huntington planning department official said during a Jan. 14 meeting.
That night, the board awarded site-plan approval for the project, which clears the way for North Shore-LIJ to apply for building permits for the $50 million, nearly 24,000 square-foot project.
Planning Board Chairman Paul Mandelik said the hospital has long been a fixture in the community.
“When we discussed this ER expansion at our meeting, we asked, ‘Has anybody used the ER at Huntington Hospital?’ Everybody raised their hands,” he said. “The point being, we appreciate Huntington Hospital. We don’t have any problem with their expansion, and keep up the good work.”
The planning board action follows the Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision to award variances for the project in late June. Under the proposal, the emergency room will be completely rebuilt, as opposed to retrofitting and expanding the existing facility. The plan is to build the new emergency room, and, once it’s complete, move the staff into the new facility. Once the transfer is complete, the former emergency room would be torn down.
Northport’s Kevin Lawlor, the former president and CEO of Huntington Hospital, told the zoning board last summer that the expansion would ease crowding experienced in the current emergency room.
“It’s often crowded, and patients wind up in hallways,” Lawlor said at the time. “We don’t want to do that. The patients don’t want it, and we want an emergency room that is state-of-the-art, efficient, and we can move patients through this new emergency room quickly and efficiently.”
Hospital officials said the $50 million will be “derived from multiple sources, including philanthropy and operations.”
Construction is expected to begin in early 2015, with an anticipated completion date in late 2016. When finished, the expansion would double the size of Huntington Hospital’s emergency room, which currently serves over 50,000 visitors per year.