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Hospitals’ ripple effects on the local economy are great

web-sig_travis-heider_Health care providers in Greater Rochester are not just the largest employers in the region—they’re an engine of the local economy. Even at a time when health care is facing significant financial challenges, hospitals are investing in capital projects to improve patient care in our community. This in turn provides employment opportunities in construction and information technology. It also promotes green building principles and an overall commitment to sustainability.

One of the largest construction projects in Greater Rochester is currently underway at Rochester General Hospital. The Sands-Constellation Center for Critical Care will be a 312,000-square-foot addition to the hospital. The facility will be seven stories tall and will include 23 operating rooms, 108 private patient rooms, 20 private post-partum rooms and 14 special care nursery rooms. Rochester Regional Health expects to spend $300 million in capital projects over the next five years, which will provide 250 to 300 construction jobs and improve health care for residents in the region.

The University of Rochester also has several capital projects underway. Golisano Children’s Hospital recently completed phase two of a $145 million project, which included a new pediatric intensive care unit and new pediatric operating rooms. Previously, children had their surgeries performed in adult operating rooms. In March, UR Medicine also opened an Outpatient Imaging Center/Pediatric Neuromedicine and Behavioral Health Center in a new 90,000-square-foot, three-story building on East River Road. Both projects will help to address the needs of children and families and attract patients from a wide geographic area to Rochester.

In addition, Finger Lakes Health recently underwent a major renovation. Its capital project, “Journey to the Best,” was a $56 million expansion and modernization project that transformed Geneva General Hospital with the addition of 106,000 square feet of new construction and 45,000 square feet of renovated space. The project focused on patient care areas and included design elements which reduced risk of infection, increased efficiency, and incorporated new technology.

Other hospitals are making investments in technology. Arnot Health has launched a new Emergency Telepsychiatry program, which connects a patient at Ira Davenport Memorial Hospital with a psychiatrist from the University of Rochester. The program allows face-to-face,  two-way interaction between patient and psychiatrist through a HIPPA-compliant streaming service. Although it’s still in the early stages, Arnot Health has received positive feedback on the new program and the time spent in the emergency room has been greatly reduced.

Guthrie Corning Hospital is improving services by upgrading wiring and the infrastructure of its IT systems. As a result, Guthrie has been named one of the nation’s “Most Wired Hospitals.” This award is given annually to the top hospitals and health systems in the country for making the most progress in the adoption of health information technology.

In addition to creating jobs, hospitals are seeking to eliminate waste and leverage renewable energy whenever possible. Rochester Regional Health is pursuing LEED Silver certification for construction at the Sands-Constellation Center for Critical Care and the Riedman Health Center at the Ridge-Goodman Plaza. Finger Lakes Health incorporated green roofs and hot water on demand into their capital project.

Hospitals do far more than just care for patients. They generate $7.1 billion in economic activity, $888 million in tax dollars and 54,000 jobs for the Greater Rochester Finger Lakes area. They send money back into the communities that they serve, improving the region as a whole and making the Greater Rochester area an attractive place to live and work.

Travis Heider is president and CEO of Rochester Regional Healthcare Association, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 association whose membership is comprised of 17 hospitals and their related health systems in the nine counties of Monroe, Livingston, Ontario, Wayne, Seneca, Yates, Allegany, Steuben and Chemung.

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