Community and Health Care Leaders Gather as Saint Barnabas Medical Center Breaks Ground on $250 Million Project to Transform Hospital

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Largest Barnabas Construction Project in Two Decades Features the Latest Evidence-Based Hospital Design

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Community and health care leaders gathered yesterday at Saint Barnabas Medical Center to break ground on a $250 million project that will transform the hospital and create the foundation for the next 50 years of health care in the region.

The Cooperman Family Pavilion, the most ambitious construction project at the hospital in two decades, will greatly expand and modernize the medical center.

“For all of us, this is a sentinel day,” said Dr. John F. Bonamo, Chief Medical Officer of Barnabas Health and former Chief Executive Officer of Saint Barnabas Medical Center. He was joined by elected officials, including State Senator Richard J. Codey and Livingston Mayor Michael M. Silverman, as well as community and hospital leaders. Dr. Bonamo told how a $17 million donation from the estate of Eric Ross to rebuild the lobby started the conversation about transforming the entire 50-year-old facility.

“The Ross donation got us thinking. What do we really need to prepare this medical center for the next 50 years in health care? We need private rooms. We need more parking. We need to green up the area. We need bigger operating rooms. We provide the best neonatal care in the country; we need to make it five times larger. We need a bigger lobby and more space for respiratory care. This is what we need,” he said.

Dr. Bonamo explained how he and others at the hospital shared their vision with Leon and Toby Cooperman, philanthropists who responded with a $25 million donation.

“There are no words to thank them for their generosity,” Dr. Bonamo said yesterday.

Leon Cooperman described his own family’s experiences receiving excellent medical care at Saint Barnabas Medical Center — and his family’s desire to support the community and to help others.

“Forty-seven years ago we came to this great community and we really want to give back whenever we can,” Leon Cooperman told those gathered outside the hospital. “This stuff didn’t fall off a turnip truck. We worked very hard, we have been very lucky and we have been very successful. And we are adhering to the advice and view of Andrew Carnegie, who said, `He who dies rich, dies disgraced.’ Our intention is to support worthy institutions in New Jersey and globally that make for a better life for individuals. I can’t think of anybody more deserving for financial support than Saint Barnabas. They have a dedicated staff of doctors, nurses and administrators who make your life and my life better. We have had three surgeries at the medical center and have always received fabulous care. It is an honor to give back so thank you very much.”

Barnabas Health President and CEO Barry Ostrowsky called the celebration of the groundbreaking a truly happy occasion: “What we are doing here is great for the community. This project will provide a state-of-the-art facility with the kind of medical care this community deserves.”

The 241,000 square-foot Cooperman Family Pavilion is expected to be complete in 2017. The lobby will be named after Eric F. and Lore Ross.

Hospital officials have said the transformative project draws from the very best of evidence-based hospital design. The five-story pavilion will be created with natural materials, soothing colors, abundant natural light — and will provide the most advanced medical technology as well as spaces to promote privacy and healing.

Such evidence-based design reflects a new generation of thinking about how to create hospital environments that improve care — from curb-free showers to prevent falls, to acoustical materials to lessen noise, to hybrid operating suites that let surgeons switch easily from minimally invasive procedures to so-called open procedures.

Dr. Bonamo said he is appreciative of the many nurses, physicians and patients who provided input on design elements. Many of their ideas and recommendations have been incorporated into the final design, creating a true, community-wide project.

Specifically, the Cooperman Family Pavilion will provide:

  •     Three new nursing units — medical/surgical, orthopedics and oncology — to create a total of 114 single patient rooms. Each spacious patient room will feature large windows, a desk, and sleeping and storage space for the patient’s family. Studies show that single patient rooms reduce anxiety, encourage communication between patients, doctors and families, and reduce hospital-associated infections as well as medical mistakes. The new patient rooms will allow the hospital to turn existing hospital beds into single patient rooms, transitioning the hospital to all single patient rooms.
  •     A 37,000 square-foot Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that is five times larger than the current NICU. The re-envisioned NICU will accommodate advanced technology and provide families with enhanced privacy through the creation of 48 individual patient bays, all with retractable privacy walls.
  •     The West Wing will create four new operating suites, which will be nearly twice the size of existing ORs. The new 700-square-foot ORs are designed to accommodate the latest minimally-invasive surgical technology, allowing surgeons to perform a range of procedures. A new Interventional Radiology Suite will allow surgeons to diagnose and treat a myriad of medical conditions. The additional ORs will bring the total number at the hospital to 22.
  •     A new parking garage. The garage design will complement the new pavilion. Additionally, the parking garage will allow the hospital to replace some of the existing parking space with gardens. Patients will view the gardens outside their windows. Studies have shown that scenes of nature promote healing and reduce anxiety — even reducing blood pressure.
  •     A two-story, light-filled lobby will provide a clear and welcoming arrival point and will be heart of the transformed Saint Barnabas Medical Center. Patients will arrive and leave from the lobby, and can easily find their way to any part of the hospital. The lobby is designed to be modern yet comforting, with curvilinear forms and abundant scenes of nature.

The awarding-winning architectural firm, Francis Cauffman, is designing the new pavilion.
“Francis Cauffman’s partnership with Saint Barnabas will create a welcoming, state-of-the-art environment that builds upon the hospital’s prestigious reputation for outstanding care,” said Ken Kramer, AIA, principal at the firm.

This project begins as the hospital is celebrating 150 years serving the community. “This project at Barnabas Health’s flagship hospital will make sure we continue to provide advanced, patient-centered care for the people in our communities for another 150 years,” Bonamo said.

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Carol Ann Campbell
Campbell Health Media
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