URMC Revises Bed Expansion Plans

Adult Beds to be Added to Wilmot Cancer Center

November 12, 2009

Construction on the three new floors could begin as early as next summer.

The University of Rochester Medical Center has begun plans to add inpatient beds for at least 30 adults to the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, a move that will address the critical shortage of space for Rochester’s hospitalized patients. 

Once building designs are finalized and approved by the University Trustees, construction could begin next summer on three new floors – one to house hospitalized patients undergoing cancer treatment, plus two unfinished floors for future expansion of research or patient care services within the Cancer Center.

The Cancer Center addition is the first phase of the Medical Center’s strategic plan to increase its capacity to care for adult patients, modernize and expand its Golisano Children’s Hospital, and provide much-needed space for imaging technology. Next, Strong Memorial Hospital anticipates constructing additional space for pediatrics and imaging, although plans for this second phase are not yet finalized. The new, two-step plan achieves the objectives of the Medical Center’s originally proposed PRISM plan, but opens adult beds sooner while incurring less debt. 

“Upon urging URMC leaders to consider all practical alternatives, I’m pleased to say that they have responded with an approach that’s practical and forward-thinking,” said University President Joel Seligman. “Together, this two-phase plan represents the most ambitious project in the University’s history and sets the stage to update the entire patient care facility.” 

“The critical need to add beds for adults, modernize and expand our pediatric services, and decompress Imaging Sciences has not changed, although economic realities challenge us to be more flexible and more creative,” said Acting CEO Mark B. Taubman, M.D. “Approaching these needs in two phases allows us to add adult beds more quickly than in the original plan, yet preserves our ability to subsequently address critical needs in pediatrics and imaging.”  

The Cancer Center addition is expected to cost approximately $45 million and would be financed through a combination of operating equity and external debt. Patients could begin occupying the new unit by early 2012 – sooner than what was expected with the originally proposed “PRISM” tower. Perhaps most important, this approach will create more integrated care for patients with cancer. 

“This is a very exciting opportunity to bring inpatient and outpatient care for cancer patients together in a single building,” said Richard I. Fisher, M.D., director of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. “The integration of research, teaching, and now all aspects of patient care is a strategy that’s been used successfully at the very best cancer centers like M.D. Anderson and Memorial Sloan Kettering.”

URMC CEO-on-Leave Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., praised the efforts of Taubman and the URMC leadership team to keep bed expansion at the top of URMC’s priorities. “We continue to operate at an unreasonably high occupancy rate which forces us to turn away many referrals from other upstate hospitals, and it leaves us vulnerable if there are sudden surges in demand. This updated plan lets us add adult beds quickly and sets the stage for a modern children’s hospital and imaging services.” 

If University Trustees approve the second phase of the expansion project, in 2011 URMC could begin constructing a new building to accommodate expanded and updated pediatrics services, and additional square footage for URMC’s overcrowded Imaging Services department. Taubman declined to give further details on the second phase at this time. 

For Media Inquiries:
Teri D'Agostino
(585) 275-3676
Email Teri D'Agostino