As if things weren’t busy enough at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, there has been ongoing construction over the past two years that will continue into 2023. It will enhance the operations, but also result in disruptions on the busy adjoining Community Drive.
Will Corrigan of East Williston oversees the considerable non-clinical operations as associate executive director of Hospital Operations. He is in charge of construction projects and appeared at the April meeting of the Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations (Greater Council) to give an update on the ongoing construction of the Petrocelli Surgical Pavilion. This seven-story, stand-alone addition is the largest current project on the campus.
Corrigan mentioned the February fire at the pavilion to which 14 fire departments responded, led by the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department (MLFD). In appreciation, the hospital treated 10 members of the MLFD team to an Islander game “just to say thank you because they were incredible,” Corrigan said.
He noted that he happened to be on the scene during the fire, doing his evening rounds and checking on the overnight staff. The fire reportedly started in one of a number of temporary wooden “shanties” erected by the construction company as break rooms for its workers. It burned for about two hours and there was extensive smoke damage over three floors, he reported.
“While it was a disaster, it could have been much worse,” Corrigan observed. “If the wind was blowing in the other direction, we would have had to evacuate the tower building. So it was a painful lesson, but it could have been worse.”
The hospital has hired a firm to supply 200 workers to clean the entire pavilion.
“We’re hopeful that we won’t lose any time [in construction].” he continued. “We’re in the final stages of finalizing the remediation plan.”
The construction, Corrigan told the Manhasset Press, is scheduled to be completed in April 2023 with occupancy by the following September.
Long Time In The Works
Corrigan said there were plans to build a pavilion earlier this millennium, but they never came to fruition.
“What we’re building now started in 2016 and received approval, but then unfortunately it was in litigation for about a year between 2018 and 2019. The Greentree Foundation [whose property adjoins the campus] were not happy with some of the designs facing their property, so that’s why it sat in limbo. It cleared all that in early 2020, when we actually got approval to start construction,” he said.
Of course, then the pandemic struck and delayed the groundbreaking to May 2020
The pavilion will have 18 operating rooms, three of which, per Corrigan, are hybrid operating rooms. According to a website, such a room “is an advanced procedural space that combines a traditional operating room with an image guided interventional suite. This combination allows for highly complex, advanced surgical procedures.”
“It really is an upgrade to the facility,” Corrigan affirmed. “Some of our operating rooms were built back in the seventies, and they’re undersized for the complexities of the operations we do. They don’t have all the capabilities that a new operating room has.”
He added that the hospital will be removing 13 operating rooms in the main building to build a bigger recovery area, so the net gain will be five rooms.
“It’s a refresh and an update of capabilities to provide a more efficient workflow to our clinicians,” Corrigan summed up.
In addition to the surgical suites, the pavilion will have 132 critical care beds which, after accounting for the transfer of all such beds from the main building, gives the campus a net increase of 38 beds.
“They will be important for when the next pandemic strikes,” someone pointed out.
“Exactly,” Corrigan replied, adding that the hospital has sunk $15 million to provide the capacity to do “full negative air [in the building]. We would circulate all outside air, which, in normal times you wouldn’t do—it’s not efficient, it’s not good for the environment—but in a pandemic, and particularly an airborne pandemic, having the ability to do that adds a layer of protection for our staff and patients.”
Everyone familiar with Community Drive in Manhasset knows to avoid it at certain hours. Activities to the reconstruction of the hospital campus entrances along the thoroughfare— installation of traffic/pedestrian pole foundations and signals, sidewalk ramps, street signs, and pavement markings—will result in right lane closure during working hours (6 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
But Corrigan assured the Greater Council that his team will do everything possible to blunt the impact. He said that as part of the building permit, the hospital had to fix some of the entrance ramps to make them more pedestrian friendly and comply with new codes. The work will start at the end of May and he estimated that it will take 18 weeks and will have an impact on traffic for five of those weeks.
“Our hope is that it’s not as bad as we think it will be and we will monitor it very closely,” Corrigan said. “[My] team is aware of it and we’re going to moderate [plans]. If the 6 a.m. start doesn’t work and we need to move it back to 5 a.m., we’ll do it as well.”
Corrigan said that the steel for the pavilion construction came from Canada, and there were two truck deliveries every day for about three months.
“On the first day the two trucks arrived at the same time and the first truck entered the construction site while the second truck’s driver decided to wait on Community Drive and blocked one of the lanes at about 7 in the morning,” Corrigan related. “It doesn’t take much to disrupt traffic on Community Drive, and I got about 15 phone calls about it and so we quickly fixed that and had the truck move. We told them that if they weren’t there by 6:30 in the morning, not to bother showing up for the day.”
Corrigan said his team will be proactive in notifying the community about specific impacts of the upcoming construction.
“Presumably, people are smart enough to realize that we do have a lot of activity on Community Drive,” he said. “We can we do it overnight and we can do it early in the morning to really minimize that impact.”