Samaritan breaks ground for new center

WATERTOWN, NY — During a groundbreaking ceremony today, Samaritan Medical Center announced today the start of a new expansion project and capital campaign, “The Healing Power of Progress.” The event was held to celebrate Samaritan’s multi-year campus transformation, which began in 2006, and the first shovels of dirt were turned for the next phase of construction: the expansion of Maternity and the Mental Health Unit.

“Over the past 12 years, and thanks to tremendous support from our community, Samaritan has experienced tremendous growth, which has changed the healthcare landscape for our community – literally and figuratively,” explained Thomas Carman, President and CEO. “The campus now includes a parking garage, patient pavilion, renovated space in existing buildings and a connector between the hospital and nursing home, as well as new services and specialties as a result. Our progress continues with the project that we’re celebrating today, as well as the opening of the Walker Center for Cancer Care this October.”

The Maternity project is the next step in the Center for Women and Children, which consolidates Maternity and Pediatrics onto one floor to offer an environment that appeals to the needs of women, children and families. It includes a new dedicated three-level entrance and parking lot that leads patients and visitors directly to the Center. Areas already completed as part of this project include the Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Labor and Delivery Suite.

The current institutional-type environment in Samaritan’s Inpatient Mental Health Unit will be transformed into one that considers the unique healing needs of patients in a calmer, warmer environment. In addition to an increase in beds from 32 to 34, the programming and activity space will feature the greatest enhancements for the patients and staff, including: additional space for physical activity/exercise; improved group therapy/activity rooms with amenities, such as sinks and open lounge seating, as well as quiet spaces; designated space for individual or group meetings with patients, family members, agencies or others and enhanced visibility of patients in day rooms or other gathering spaces.

Samaritan Medical Center and its physicians are responsible for 95% of the care to the estimated 50,000 active duty Soldiers, retirees, civilian employees and their family members of Fort Drum, accounting for a significant percentage of patients in services, such as Maternity (51%), Neonatal Intensive Care (39.5%), Pediatrics (29.6%) and Inpatient Mental Health (31.7%). In her remarks, Colonel Cornelius Tyler, Deputy Commander for Nursing for Fort Drum Medical Department Activity (MEDDAC) noted, “Each month, an average of 55 babies are born into our military families at Samaritan. This is a unique model of care compared to what they have experienced elsewhere, and they receive excellent care from Samaritan and the MEDDAC providers throughout their childbirth experience.”

During the ceremony, the Samaritan Medical Center Foundation formally announced the kick-off “The Healing Power of Progress” Capital Campaign to support these projects, as well as the Walker Center for Cancer Care, which is slated to open in October. Campaign Chairs, Bernie Brown, Pam Beyor-Murtha and Dan Villa, made the announcement of the campaign and its goal of $6 million. Leadership gifts of support were recognized, including: Children’s Miracle Network ($1,000,000); The Robert Sturtz Family ($500,000); Samaritan Auxiliary ($500,000); Kinney Drugs Foundation ($250,000); and Dr. John and Gina Poggi ($200,000). To date, $3.3 million has been raised toward the goal.

“We are so excited with the enthusiasm and leadership that has been generated for this campaign,” stated Mrs. Beyor-Murtha on behalf of her fellow campaign chairs. “Our hope is that this will inspire you and others in our community to give a gift of supporting exceptional healthcare for our community as we enter into the next exciting phase of ‘The Healing Power of Progress’ Campaign for Samaritan.”

Additionally, tours of the new Walker Center for Cancer Care, which is slated to open in October, were offered to give attendees a glance into the project to date.

Approximately 130 people attended the event.