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LIJ officials unveil $500M redevelopment project

Administrators at Long Island Jewish Medical Center updated the community last week on what was described as the most extensive construction projects being built on the campus since the hospital opened in 1954.

About $500 million is being spent on the grounds of LIJ to build a 10-story women's hospital adjacent to the main bed tower, a pediatric center at Schneider Children's Hospital and the relocation of the Zucker Hillside Hospital to the campus.

But as hospital officials explained the projects to civic leaders, they were met with complaints that LIJ employees were taking up parking spots or parking illegally in the neighborhood and concerns that large delivery trucks rumbling down their streets would damage sewers.

Bernard Dubin, LIJ vice president for project management, said plans for the women's hospital include a restaurant leading to an outdoor garden and private patient rooms.

"We hope to make all the rooms like a hotel instead of a hospital room," Dubin said.

Construction on the women's hospital is slated to start in August with the opening scheduled for August 2011.

Two interconnected lobbies will link the women's hospital to the main bed tower, which will receive a face-lift as LIJ plans to replace its 50-year-old facade.

The Zucker Hillside Hospital, a psychiatric facility at 75-59 263rd St. in Glen Oaks, will be located to the LIJ campus as part of the construction effort.

The 1950s-style cottages that currently comprise the facility will be demolished and an inpatient pavilion will be built on LIJ grounds. The pavilion will feature an interfaith chapel for meditation and a conference center. It is expected to open in 2011.

At Schneider, a four-story pavilion is being built to accommodate a children's emergency department along with radiology and pediatric intensive care units.

Inside the patient rooms, medical equipment will be concealed by wood panels to create a more inviting look. Chairs will fold out to allow family members to be with the child overnight, Dubin said.

All of the newly constructed facilities will feature either single or double-bedded rooms, according to John Steel, LIJ executive director. The hospital currently has some rooms that are shared between four patients.

"We owe you 21st century care and that's what we're working toward," he said, calling the single and double beds "the new standard for our health system.

"It's more expensive, but it's what we owe you," he said.

At the informational meeting held May 22, nearby residents of the hospital complained about employees parking on their streets and sometimes blocking their driveways.

Mike Castellano, the Lost Community Civic Association vice president, held up photographs of trucks and cars parked illegally, including one showing a man he claimed drove a shuttle bus for the hospital tapping into a Con Edison pole on his block.

While Steel said he was sorry about the situation, he cautioned that employees who are parked legally have that right.

"We cannot stop our employees from parking. Right now, it is legal to park there. All we can do is discourage that... but we can't stop it."

He said a new employee parking garage on the LIJ campus fully opened Friday, which should alleviate the number of workers who park in the neighborhood.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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