Two Fairfield County hospitals are wrapping up long-gestating construction projects, aimed at improving both patient accommodation and staff needs.
Yale New Haven Health (YNHH) cut the ribbon May 3 on the Park Avenue Medical Center, a new outpatient medical center at 5520 Park Ave. in Trumbull. The three-story, 100,000-square-foot center combines new and existing services provided on the same campus by Bridgeport Hospital, Smilow Cancer Hospital, Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital and Northeast Medical Group. Nearly 90 new permanent jobs have been added at the site, bringing the total to almost 200.
“Our board, medical staff and patients have for years given us counsel that while the focus of our activity is at (267 Grant St.) in Bridgeport, there was a need to extend further into the suburbs as well,” said William M. Jennings, president and CEO of Bridgeport Hospital, which is part of the YNHH network.
“For years we were looking for the perfect spot,” he added, noting that YNHH is leasing the buildings on the Park Avenue campus from Trumbull-based Sound Development LLC. “This was the dream location for a medical center of this complexity.”
Jennings said the Park Avenue Medical Center stands “literally at the corner of four towns,” with the center in Trumbull, the parking garage in Bridgeport and the Fairfield/Easton border across the street on Park Avenue.
The project began with the construction of Bridgeport Hospital’s Trumbull Radiation Oncology Center in 2012. Smilow Cancer Care Center, offering medical and surgical oncology services including chemotherapy and greater access to cancer clinical trials, opened at the Trumbull site in September 2014 along with a 478-space parking garage.
Other services on the campus include an outpatient antenatal testing center, laboratory draw station, diagnostic radiology services, an expanded Norma Pfriem Breast Center, Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital pediatric specialty center and affiliated physician offices.
The new building adds outpatient surgery; gastroenterology suites for digestive disease treatment; laboratory, pharmacy, nutrition and counseling services; and rehabilitation services including physical and occupational therapy.
Central to the complex is the Norma Pfriem Healing Garden, funded in part by a $500,000 naming gift from the Norma F. Pfriem Foundation. Accessible from the Smilow Care Center in the new building, the garden affords patients and visitors “a serene space where they can sit on a bench or view the fountain,” Jennings said.
He noted that private gazebos are also available outside its infusion office, where “on pretty days patients can actually sit outside and receive their chemotherapy treatments. It’s a healing environment like no other.”
The project also resulted in extensive improvements to the Merritt Parkway Exit 47 interchange, including roundabouts to enhance safety and traffic flow. Total project costs, including the garage, interchange enhancements and neighborhood drainage improvements, were $96.8 million, with long-term financing provided by TIAA-CREF.
At Bridgeport Hospital itself, renovations are being completed to update existing facilities and equipment, with a complete modernization of its neonatal intensive care unit to follow, Jennings said. Depending on fundraising, the hospital hopes to begin that work sometime next year.
With inpatient volume up and ER visits expected to hit a new record this year at over 90,000, patient flow renovations in its emergency room and the addition of a 19-bed inpatient medical unit (East Tower 8) are being undertaken. To create additional space, the hospital has moved its inpatient rehabilitation unit to Milford, where it is been consolidated with YNHH’s inpatient unit in space leased from Milford Hospital.
Jennings added that construction on a hybrid operating room would begin in about a month. That project will incorporate imaging equipment and a cardiac catheterization lab within the same space.
In the meantime, Stamford Hospital remains on target for completing its construction of a $450 million, 650,000-square-foot facility this month, according to Stan Hunter, new hospital project director at Stamford Health. Finishing touches are being applied to the patient room floors, with final construction taking place over the next few months in specific areas, particularly external landscaping and parking.
Tours of the new facility for all 3,000 hospital employees, as well as more than 700 volunteers, will begin on July 5, Hunter said, during which time they will familiarize themselves with layout, equipment and other features. The hospital plans to be open for patients by the end of September.
Hunter and Jennings both noted that their institutions are continuously updating equipment and facilities to maintain efficiency vis-à-vis costs and patient care.