Westchester’s Largest Healthcare Construction Project In Decades Just Announced

Westchester Medical Center unveils plans for a $230-million ambulatory care facility in Valhalla.

Just when we thought we were abreast of every new medical-center project taking shape across Westchester’s rapidly growing and changing healthcare landscape, the news broke that Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) has unveiled plans for an ambitious new project. Earlier today at a meeting of the Westchester County Local Development Corporation (LDC), the medical center’s execs shared their vision for a $230-million, 280,000-square-foot Ambulatory Care Pavilion to be built adjacent to Westchester Medical Center on its Valhalla campus. The project would be the largest healthcare construction project in the county in decades.

The announcement comes as the healthcare industry continues to shift its focus toward ambulatory care to expand offerings and keep patients from using hospitals for less complicated procedures that can be performed elsewhere. “The development of an ambulatory care hub on our Valhalla campus will respond to key changes in health care delivery, while addressing a critical shortage of space as our programs and patient volume continue to grow,” says WMCHealth President and CEO Michael D. Israel in the joint press release issued by the County and WMCHealth. “This project will enable us to offer outpatient services currently not available on our campus and further showcase the latest in healthcare technologies.”

The plans themselves are striking: the dramatic eight-story steel and glass pavilion will include 185,000 square feet of ambulatory care service space, including an Advanced Imaging Center, Ambulatory Surgery Center and Heart and Vascular Institute, and a 20,000-square-foot private-room expansion for Westchester Medical Center, plus another 75,000 square feet for physician offices. The new building project is expected to break ground this spring, in concert with the opening of Westchester Medical Center’s new 6,000-square-foot lobby and its new Caregiver Center for patient families.

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The project, which is expected to generate 180 new full-time jobs when complete as well as 225 prevailing-wage construction jobs, gives WMCHealth bragging rights—over itself, essentially—for being the county’s largest healthcare development since Westchester Medical Center’s 400,000-square-foot main tower was built in 1977 and its 250,000-square-foot Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital was built in 2004.

In order to help fund the massive project, WMCHealth has partnered with the LDC, an agency created by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, which makes tax-exempt financing available to nonprofit institutions. The LDC financing also includes $44 million for other capital projects and may re-fund up to $52 million for certain bonds for a total not to exceed $340 million, according to the release. Because the hospital is a public benefit corporation, the LDC had to amend its bylaws to expand its non-profit reach to include public benefit corporations. The additional reach was approved by the state on Tuesday.

Of the project’s obvious benefits for the county’s economy, Astorino noted, “Today’s announcement represents a giant boost for both healthcare and the economy.  This is the single biggest financing for our LDC to date and by working together with Westchester Medical Center, we are improving healthcare outcomes and creating jobs, which is a winning combination.”

“By the time WMCHealth’s Ambulatory Care Pavilion cares for its first patients in 2018, we will have invested nearly $1 billion in infrastructure, technology, renovation and expansion on the Valhalla campus alone, in just over a decade,” Israel added. 

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