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January 15, 2013

Fox Hospital undergoing $10M upgrade

By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star

---- — A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta has begun a $10 million renovation that will result in fewer licensed beds but more single-occupancy rooms, a hospital executive said Monday.

“We’re going from 100 to 60, and then we’re creating, for the first time, an observation unit, which will add back 16 beds,” Fox President John R. Remillard said.

The $10 million upgrade will be largely funded by an $8.7 million grant under New York state’s Hospital Efficiency and Affordability Law, or HEAL.

The balance will be raised through private donations, Remillard said, adding that the hospital is already halfway to its goal of $1.5 million.

Fox said that several trends are driving its move toward single-occupancy rooms.

For example, it says in a

brochure about the renovations that lower insurance reimbursement rates mean shorter hospital stays and a lower patient population. That allows the hospital to reconfigure room within its current building.

It also pointed out: “Patient privacy enhances communication between patient and caregivers,” and that single-patient rooms reduce the possibility that infections will spread.

“We will be completely modernizing older sections of the hospital,” Remillard said. “The main part of this construction work will be in the main part of the building that was built in 1973, which now makes it 40 years old. So it’s time to be modernized.”

“Everything will be upgraded,” he added. “We’re going right down to the concrete slab. … Every room will have a private bath, a private shower, single beds.

The construction also gives the hospital a chance to upgrade its patient-care technology, Remillard said.

The renovated areas will have “new computer systems to take care of the patient bedside so that there won’t be any paper records,” he said. “This will be electronic medical records. All the rooms will have telemetry monitoring as well.”

Remillard said LeChase Construction of Rochester has been hired to manage the project.

“We’ve used them in the past,” he said. “They’ve worked in this area in the past, quite a bit.”

LeChase, in turn, will be looking for local contractors, he said.

“They’ll be sending the bid packets to local contractors and inviting them to bid,” he said.

“All the major trades are represented. For instance, there will be an electrical contractor, a plumbing contractor. Regular construction (contractors) will be erecting walls. … There will be some more specialized ones for more specialized equipment and stuff like that.”

He said the work started a week ago and is expected to be complete by February 2014.

The HEAL grant that’s funding the bulk of the renovation work is the result of an application that the Bassett Healthcare Network make a year ago on behalf of A.O. Fox and Cobleskill Regional Hospital. The Cobleskill funding is earmarked for primary-care offices.

Remillard said fund raising began a month ago.

“We went to all our board, out administrators, some of our longtime, consistent donors,” he said. “And in a few weeks, we’ll be launching it publicly, going to all our employees and the community at large. But we’re just about halfway there.”

“We’ll probably doing fundraising for this event throughout the entire calendar year of 2013,” he added.