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Large addition open at AMC

ALBANY -- Called the largest expansion of a medical facility in the Northeast, Albany Medical Center officially opened its new Patient Pavilion today.  It's a $360 million project making the hospital one of the most high-tech health facilities in the region.
You've likely watched it go up along New Scotland Avenue over the last two years, especially if you're one of the 1,000 new employees who will work there.  Inpatient admissions to Albany Med have increased 42% -- transfers, 350%.  Though some hospitals will likely try to keep patients out of hospitals because of consequences with health care reform, Albany Med expects to continue growing past this jump ahead.
Lynn Spilman walks us through the new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in AMC's Patient Pavilion.  Where six patients now occupy a room of a certain size in the old part of the hospital, one little patient will have a room equivalent to that whole space.  That includes room for families, and it's input staff provided in the nearly ten-year planning phase.
"We were able to determine how our patient space would be divided, what types of things we would be on our patient headwalls for the equipment," said Spilman, a neonatal nurse practitioner at Albany Med.
Spilman will even be able to check monitoring devices in a patient's room from her phone when the unit moves to the new building in October.  Brand-new operating rooms downstairs with robotic technology and imaging software are designed to be less invasive for patients and helpful to the medical team.
"Everyone in the room will be able to see on the TV cameras what's going on in the operative wound," said Dr. Steven Frisch, hospital director.  "That's going to be a lot safer for patients."
That includes a better lesson for students.
"When we're learning from a textbook and whatnot it's two-dimensional," said Dr. Edward Lee, Chief of the Division of General Surgery.  "To go from two-dimensional to three-dimensional it's a leap.  Now with medical students you could learn that as 3D from the get-go."
This building adds over 80 beds when Albany Med often finds itself at full capacity, crunching to find space for patients.
"That is beyond not ideal, it's not often safe," said James Barba, Albany Med CEO.  "We simply decided that we had to do better to meet the demand."
The building is brighter, it includes gardens -- to better the experience of patients and families.  Three million people in some way touch Albany Med's network, Mr. Barba says.
The Patient Pavilion opening comes as neighbors in the Park South neighborhood of Albany learn about a larger expansion plan with Albany Med and several private partners, which includes the construction of some 250 apartments, retail and office space in the neighborhood.  It calls for the demolition of 37 homes, and the relocation of families that live in them.
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