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Highland Hospital plans expansion 

Highland Hospital is planning a two story, 30,000 square foot expansion. Each floor would be 15,000 square feet. The project still needs approvals from the City of Rochester and the State Department of Health.

The addition would be built off the back of the hospital on what is currently a hospital parking lot at the end of Bellevue Drive.

The proposed project is part of a long-range facilities master plan that hospital officials have been developing. The plan looks at demographics and health care trends to project future needs and the impact those needs would have on the hospital over time, says Teri D'Agostino, a spokesperson for Highland Hospital.

The closures of St. Mary's and Genesee hospitals have increased the demands on Highland, D'Agostino says. And the hospital is badly in need of modernization, she says. Some parts of the hospital are 90 years old, she says, and the operating rooms are too cramped to accommodate advances in technology.

Modern operating rooms are about 650 square feet, says Mike Zanghi, director of facilities for Highland Hospital. But some of Highland's operating rooms are 350 square feet.

The addition would house six larger operating rooms, D'Agostino says, and allow the hospital to expand its current operating rooms. The total number of operating rooms would stay at 14.

Highland would also add about 25 new observation beds, D'Agostino says, for people who may or may not need to be admitted. Those patients currently occupy inpatient beds, she says, which backs-up the emergency room.

That new observation beds would allow the hospital to convert semi-private rooms to private rooms, she says.

"The new standard of care is private rooms," D'Agostino says. "People no longer expect to go to a hospital and be cared for with another patient in the same room."

Zanghi says the target date to complete the addition is 2018.

Highland Hospital also recently purchased 27 Bellevue Drive, which is adjacent to the hospital. The plan is to use it for office space, D'Agostino says. The need is critical, she says; the hospital has 27 programs in 30 different offsite locations.

"The space is packed so tightly that it's hard to renovate in place," she says. "We have a real need at this point for office space -- even office space that can be used as swing space while we're temporarily renovating other areas."

No patient care programs would be housed at the Bellevue site, D'Agostino says.

She wouldn't say if the hospital plans to acquire additional properties in the future. Hospital officials want to work with Highland neighbors, she says, to get the best possible outcome for everyone.

"We want to leave our options open because we really want to sit down and have a really robust discussion about what could and couldn't be done," she says.

Highland neighbors are always on alert to the hospital's plans and activities, says Mike Mahoney, head of the Highland Park Neighborhood Association. The close quarters mean that everything the hospital does affects the neighborhood.

An offshoot of the neighborhood association, Defending Urban Neighborhoods, has signs up in the neighborhood reading, "Stop Hospital Sprawl." A representative of that group hasn't returned a call for comment.


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