St. Joseph's in Elmira to move its therapy departments

Eric Reinhardt
Business Journal - Central New York, The

Mar 13, 2008 20:00 EDT

ELMIRA - The president and CEO of St. Joseph's Hospital in Elmira says its mission has always been "serving the most vulnerable."

Sister Marie Castagnaro believes the upcoming relocation of the hospital's outpatient therapy departments is another way to ensure the hospital stays true to its mission and ministry of serving the community.

St. Joseph's has been given the go-ahead to move its outpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy departments, along with its hand-management center to the former Hoss's Steak and Sea House Restaurant, a 9,400-square-foot-building at 905 East Church St. in Elmira.

Castagnaro says St. Joseph's Hospital is simply running out of space in the current outpatient rehabilitation area inside the main facility.

"It's just very tight quarters down there, so we really need to expand space in order to do the quality jobs that we've been doing for years."

The move also means St. Joseph's can begin planning the expansion of its emergency department.

"It's really a basic domino effect. In order to expand in one area, you have to make some adjustments in other areas," Castagnaro notes.

St. Joseph's officials liked the East Church Street property because it was vacant, the price was right, and it was all on one floor. Plus, the hospital bought some adjacent land in case it needs an additional expansion. And the location wasn't had, either.

"I think the biggest advantage is the fact that it's immediately off I-86, so it'll be very convenient for people coming down the highway."

The project's cost - which includes purchase of the property and renovation - will total about $1 million. The bids went out at the end of February and a decision on a contractor will be made in mid-March.

Castagnaro believes the new facility will be operational by the end of this year, or early in 2009, if construction begins by the middle of this year.

St. Joseph's obtained approval from the New York State Department of Health in January for the expansion of its outpatient services.

The hospital bought the Hoss's Restaurant property in April 2006 but had to put the relocation project on hold as it fulfilled requirements outlined by the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, more commonly known as the Berger Commission.

St. Joseph's worked with Elmira's Arnot Ogden Medical Center to see if there were areas in which the two hospitals could work together. The facilities submitted four potential items of collaberation, and the state agreed to have the hospitals work on two of them. One was a primary-care clinic for each campus, and the hospitals will also work to implement best practices for patient safety, or in Medicaid or Medicare requirements.

"So, everything was put on hold across the state, actually, not just here in Elmira, but across the state, in terms of certificates of need, which one has to submit in order to do this project, until discussions took place," said Castagnaro.

Some features of the physical, occupational, and speech therapy departments, as well as the hand management center, will remain at the hospital's main campus at 555 East Market St. in order to accommodate the needs of the hospital's inpatients. The kitchen, living room, and bathroom areas will all remain set up. Castagnaro says once patients are discharged, they often have to return for additional services for help in daily living and range of motion.

"While they're here on the inpatient side, we will still have to have some of the set-ups continue here because they have to learn, for example, how to transfer themselves from their wheelchair to their living room couch or how to transfer themselves from their wheelchair to he able to use their stove."

Castagnaro isn't sure how many employees will work at the new location. She expects there may be some new employees added, but isn't sure how many as of now.

St. Joseph's is a 295-bed facility with 1,000 employees. It generated annual revenue of $67.4 million in 2006. The hospital's final revenue figure for 2007 is still being tabulated and audited.

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Source: Business Journal - Central New York, The