Residents living near Nyack Hospital are concerned about a $22.2 million expansion plan, saying they believe the facility shouldn’t grow any further until it gets a better handle on the parking issues that plague streets around the campus.
Employees, patients and visitors who don’t want to pay $2 to park in the hospital’s lot or use the valet option seek out on-street parking, which has made for congested roads several days a week, said Kyle Ryan, who has lived across from the hospital on Haven Court for nearly a decade.
Although the village has adopted measures to restrict street parking in the area before 11 a.m. three days a week, Ryan said it only “provides temporary relief” since non-residents “just hopscotch to another neighborhood and then go back on the days when it’s not in effect.”
Not only is it a nuisance for homeowners, it’s also dangerous for children playing in the area, as well as pedestrians walking to and from the hospital, he said.
“Our neighborhoods have become parking lots. And it’s only going to get worse,” said Ryan. “From my understanding, parking has always been an issue with the hospital and it’s never been resolved. I’m not against them becoming a better hospital — it will help make the town better. I’m against them expanding without providing the infrastructure with a parking deck.”
But more parking is not included in the plan, because hospital officials don’t believe the project — which proposes a redesigned emergency room and addition of a “medical village” outpatient facility of primary and specialty providers — will increase the number of people visiting the North Midland Avenue facility. (Plan at a glance below)
Hospital spokeswoman Lauren Malone said, if anything, the renovations “will result in the same or fewer patients.”
“The emergency department expansion and medical village concept do not add additional parking requirements since the goal is to reduce unnecessary emergency department and inpatient admissions and refer those patients to the appropriate level of care within the medical village or off campus,” Malone said.
Village code does not require increased parking spaces, based on the number of beds and number of visits the facility receives, but Dr. Mark Geller, Nyack Hospital’s CEO, told The Journal News in July that they have been exploring a “variety of parking solutions” because “it’s tight.”
Tina Guarasci, who has lived for nearly 20 years on Haven Court, said, “If they are expanding the hospital then they need more parking. My issue is where that might be.”
In June, Guarasci was one of several neighbors who expressed opposition to a concept pitched by the hospital to acquire MacCalman Field, a school district-owned baseball field across the street, and turn part of it into a 79-space parking lot. Based upon the negative feedback, Nyack school officials said they would not be moving forward with that proposal.
Ryan said the village shouldn’t allow the expansion.
“The hospital is saying they’re going to lower the number of ER visits, but the reality is they can’t turn away people under the law,” Ryan said. ”And, with the creation of this medical village, that means there’s more offices and more staff members. Where are they going to park when our streets are already full now?”
The proposal is awaiting approval by the village Planning Board, which is scheduled to continue reviewing the plan at its Oct. 3 meeting.
If approved, the project would be the largest in the history of the 121-year-old hospital. It’s also the largest undertaking since the addition of a 20,000-square-foot cancer center in 1999 and the first major capital project since Nyack Hospital joined Montefiore Health System in 2014.
Eight years ago, Nyack Hospital launched a campaign that guaranteed all patients seeking emergency care would be seen within 30 minutes, a commitment that more than doubled visits to make Nyack one of the busiest ERs in the lower Hudson Valley.
With the hospital seeing around 60,000 patients annually in an emergency room that’s equipped to handle about 35,000, Geller said officials are seeking to reconfigure and expand the space to better handle the volume.
Around $17.7 million in funding came from the state, while the balance was contributed during a fundraiser organized by the hospital. In recent years, the state has made $6.42 billion available through the Delivery System Reform Incentive Program, which aims to restructure health care in New York by reducing avoidable hospital use by 25 percent over five years.
Malone said once work had begun, the hospital plans to hold quarterly meetings with area residents to discuss construction and other issues. She said someone from Nyack Hospital will be assigned to serve as a liaison to neighbors to address any issues that arise.
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