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Progress continues on Wynn Hospital project in Utica

By Traci DeLore (tdelore@cnybj.com)

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A rendering shows what the completed Wynn Hospital will look like. The 10-story building will feature 373 patient rooms, a 62-room emergency department, and 14 operating rooms. The Mohawk Valley Health System expects to start treating patients in the building in October 2023. (PHOTO CREDIT: MVHS)

UTICA, N.Y. — The downtown Utica skyline has a new look these days as work continues on the Mohawk Valley Health System’s (MVHS) new Wynn Hospital.

The project, slated for August 2023 completion, is about 65 percent finished right now, says Robert Scholefield, executive VP of facilities and real estate for MVHS.

“There is drywall and paint going up on the first two floors,” he notes. “We don’t anticipate not meeting the August 2023 deadline.”

When completed, the 10-story hospital, encompassing 72,000 square feet, will include 373 patient rooms, a 62-room emergency department that can handle 95,000 visits a year, 14 operating rooms, two cardiac catheterization labs — just to name a few features.

The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties heads into the Wynn Hospital earlier this spring. The $611 million Mohawk Valley Health System project is about 65 percent complete and on track for its August 2023 completion date. (PHOTO CREDIT: MVHS)

MVHS and Seattle, Washington–based architecture firm NBBJ engaged 400 employees during the design process, Scholefield says. The focus was on both patient and staff flow. The goal was to make the process both efficient for hospital staff and quiet for patients.

“I think the end result is going to prove we accomplished all that,” he adds.

The hospital-construction project has not been severely impacted by the pandemic-induced supply-chain issues, he says, as the majority of supplies and materials were preordered before COVID.

“The other supply issue has been labor,” Scholefield says. The project in April crossed the 1 million hours of labor mark, but it has been challenging at times to find enough workers.

“There are a number of projects going up in New York right now,” Scholefield says. “That has greatly diminished the supply of labor.”

Once complete, patients will move to the new Wynn Hospital in October 2023, leaving both the St. Elizabeth Medical Center campus in Utica and the St. Luke’s Hospital campus in New Hartford empty. While the St. Luke’s site was at one point considered for the new hospital, the plan now is to sell both campuses, Scholefield says. MVHS resent its request for proposals for those campuses last month after the initial RFPs were derailed by the pandemic.

MVHS will retain the Faxton building in Utica “That will remain in the system as an outpatient facility,” Scholefield notes.

All services provided at the two main campuses will relocate to the Wynn Hospital, and that will result in savings on utility costs as well as on duplication of staffing. MVHS estimates it will save $15 million annually in operating efficiencies.

The new hospital will also create some growth as well. MVHS has received numerous inquiries from medical colleges about establishing residency programs. MVHS currently has one family medicine residency with 30 physician residents.

Under a new agreement with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, Pennsylvania, that number will grow to more than 200 physician learners, Scholefield says.

“Being a teaching facility helps attract other staff,” he adds.

The Genesis Group had the opportunity to tour the first three floors of the facility in March, says Raymond J. Durso, Jr., Genesis president and CEO.

“An absolutely phenomenal experience,” he says. “How lucky are we in the Mohawk Valley region to be getting this state-of-the-art facility?”

Calling it an anchor project, Durso notes the project has spurred the start of other development in the area, such as the nearby Nexus Center indoor-sports complex.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for all this positive development,” Durso says. “It’s an exciting time.”

Gilbane Building Company — a Providence, Rhode Island–based firm with  upstate New York offices in Albany and Rochester — is the project’s construction manager. Hammes Company, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin–based health-care consulting firm, serves as the project-management company hired to facilitate the project. Hammes is offering advisory services and program management.

MVHS, formed in 2014, is an affiliation between St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare that also includes MVHS Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Visiting Nurse Association of Utica and Oneida County, and Senior Network Health.

MVHS received a $300 million grant from the New York State Department of Health and a $50 million donation from casino magnate Steve Wynn’s family foundation for the $611 million project. MVHS also secured $180 million in financing through Barclays, a multinational investment bank and financial-services company.

The 25-acre campus will also include an 80,000-square-foot central utility facility and a parking garage. Oneida County is building the $40.5 million, 1,550-space garage with 1,150 spaces allotted for hospital needs.

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