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LIJ breaks ground on new center

Mayor Michael Bloomberg helped break ground last Thursday on a $300 million, 10-story women's hospital at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center campus.

The 250,000-square-foot Katz Women's Hospital is slated to open in 2011 with 73 private patient rooms and will center on care for women from maternity to menopause and beyond.

Bloomberg pointed out that both LIJ and North Shore University Hospital are two of the three city hospitals that deliver more babies than anywhere else in the country.

He said the women's hospital will "bolster the effort to reduce [the] infant mortality rate" in the city, which he said has dropped 50 percent since 1990.

The project is the largest constructed since the LIJ campus was built nearly 40 years ago, according to North Shore-LIJ CEO Michael Dowling.

"We're talking about a transformation of the LIJ campus," he said. "We're doing something that will help future generations."

Dr. Adiel Fleischer, the hospital's interim chairman of obstetrics and gynecology, called the women's hospital "the most important project in [LIJ's] history.

"This is more than a building," he said.

The facility is being funded by Saul Katz, the health system's board of trustees chairman, and his wife, Iris Katz.

"It's long been clear that women have unique needs when it comes to health care," Saul Katz said.

He said the women's hospital will bring "targeted health care solutions" to women, who he said have different biological, social and psychological factors that affect their health than men.

"Women are unique. They deserve unique treatment," Iris Katz said. "We will create a state-of-the-art medical system."

Stephanie Wilkins, a 29-year-old Corona resident with diabetes who had a high-risk pregnancy at LIJ, said she will be using the women's hospital when it is expected to open in three years.

"This is my second home," she said of LIJ, where she takes her 9-month-old son, Elijah, a kidney and diabetes patient, for neonatal care. "We will be coming here."

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

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