University of Rochester Medical Center Seeks Approval for New Ambulatory Surgical Center

October 30, 2007

"As the largest surgical provider in the region, this is a natural next step for us."

Aiming to provide more appropriate care to the growing number of its patients needing outpatient surgery, the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Strong Memorial Hospital has submitted an application to New York State’s Department of Health to open and operate an off-site ambulatory surgical center (ASC).

If approved, Strong’s ASC would contain 10 operating rooms and two procedure rooms, as well as space for pre- and post-operative care, a materials processing unit for instrument sterilization and preparation, and patient/family waiting room areas. The 52,000-square-foot facility is planned for 180 Sawgrass Drive, just off Westfall Road.  The Medical Center would provide the $13 million investment necessary to outfit the ASC with state-of-the-art surgical equipment.

The proposal has received the unanimous backing from both the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency and the Community Technology Assessment Advisory Board, or CTAAB. The application is now being reviewed by the Department of Health’s State Hospital Review and Planning Council. 

According  to Strong Memorial Hospital CEO Steven I. Goldstein, like the hospital itself, Strong Memorial’s 33 operating rooms run at capacity each day, making it increasingly difficult to accommodate both its inpatient and outpatient cases.

“As the region’s tertiary and quaternary referral center, regional trauma center, and regional children’s center, about 20 percent of our surgical cases are emergency cases that need to be performed immediately due to patient urgency,” Goldstein said. “As a result, every day we have patients awaiting elective procedures who are being bumped from the schedule, resulting in significant delays for our patients and family members.”

Over the years, Strong has managed the excess demand for its operating rooms by having Medical Center faculty surgeons work out of private surgicenters. In 2006, Strong estimates that its faculty surgeons performed more than 5,000 procedures at such surgicenters. Nationwide, outpatient surgeries continue to climb in number, fueled by new minimally invasive technology and other surgical innovations.  In 1980, about 10 percent of all hospital surgeries were outpatient procedures, a number that jumped to 65 percent in 2005. Strong’s surgical cases totaled 24,301 in 2006, with 49 percent of them being outpatient procedures.

Michael Maloney, M.D., associate professor of orthopaedics, who would serve as director of the proposed new surgical center, said that outpatient surgical centers have defined a new standard of care that patients have come to expect.

“Outpatient surgical centers have created an efficient model for handling surgeries in a way that optimizes the care and service for patients,” Maloney said. “Because they handle only elective, pre-scheduled surgeries, they aren’t forced to shift schedules to accommodate emergencies. This allows them to run very efficiently and in a manner that more and more patients are coming to expect.”

Goldstein added that Medical Center faculty provide the majority of specialty care to Medicaid recipients across the region. The new ASC will allow Strong to quickly schedule all types of surgical cases, regardless of type of payer.

“As the largest surgical provider in the region, this is a natural next step for us,” Goldstein said. “If approved, our new ambulatory surgical center will allow us to provide the current standard of care for our patients -- something that cannot be achieved in hospital settings, which are designed and staffed to handle all types of surgeries.”

If the project is approved, Strong will shift cases from its operating rooms and from local surgicenters to the new ASC. Build-out of the new location would take approximately one year, and could begin as early as spring ’08.

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Germaine Reinhardt
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