Although construction crews have been working for several weeks on the site at the northwest corner of Longview and Maple avenues in White Plains, adjacent to White Plains Hospital’s Cancer Care Center, a groundbreaking was held on April 22 for what will be a groundbreaking addition to the hospital’s facilities: a 252,000-square-foot, 9-story, $272 million outpatient care center.
In addition to housing operating rooms, among the high-tech, ultra-modern facilities will be endoscopy suites for procedures such as colonoscopies, imaging equipment, hyperbaric chambers for high-pressure oxygen treatments used in wound care and a heart and vascular center. Specialty physician practices to be located at the new building will include orthopedics, spine, neurosurgery and maternal fetal medicine.
Laurence R. Smith, chairman of the hospital’s board of directors, told a crowd of hospital supporters, workers and local dignitaries, “Since White Plains Hospital became a member of the Montefiore Health System nearly 4½ years ago, our collaboration has helped us bring our vision as being a hub of advanced, exceptional health care here in Westchester to a reality.“
He reminded the attendees that in 1893, White Plains Hospital started as a four-room house with no running water and that a few years later it had a primitive operating room with no anesthesia. “That couldn’t have been fun,” he said.
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach, in praising the hospital’s contributions to the city, drew upon his personal experiences. “I’m not just the mayor, I’m a customer. Two children born here, treated and cured of cancer here, never a bad experience, so thank you White Plains Hospital for your investment in our community,” he said.
Susan Fox, the hospital’s president and CEO, said, “What we’re doing today is really our commitment to our community, our expanding community, to thrive in a time of great complexity and making sure that people get the right health care.”
She described increased demand for the hospital’s inpatient and outpatient services. “We’re growing unlike many other hospitals. Thirty-five hundred staff members now work here today, and our success demands that we continue to build here at White Plains Hospital and that hole in back of me,” she said pointing to where construction workers were waiting quietly as the event continued, “is quite a statement and it took a lot to get here.”
Fox said that when she arrived at the hospital nine years ago there already was a demonstrable need for a facility similar to the one now being built.
“The right timing is very important, because if we had built the building then, it would have been a building with primary care physicians, and today we’re building something very different for the challenges that we have today,” Fox said. Fox then gave a verbal tour of what will be in the 9-story center, noting that the tent in which the event was taking place was erected where the building’s lobby will be located. She emphasized the need for specialty services to be available locally, so patients no longer have to travel long distances to see specialists.
Fox said that the hospital is planning to interconnect its buildings.
“Having the staff and patients to be able to get from building to building really is going to be key, and even more importantly, right now if you get sick and you need inpatient services while you’re at the cancer center, you actually need an ambulance to take you around the block (to the main hospital), which is crazy.”
By the end of construction, the new center is expected to have created 441 permanent jobs, according to information provided by the hospital. In 2018, the hospital accounted for 1 out of every 36 jobs in White Plains.
After a ceremony in which shovels of soil were tossed to symbolize actually breaking open the ground for building, Fox told the Business Journal, “The way that health care economics is working is that we’re finding ways for patients to be treated on the outside that don’t need hospital inpatient services, and so the trend toward hospitals providing a higher complexity of care is part of our strategic vision to be important and essential to the community. We are growing, and the demand for services provides us the impetus to provide these services.”