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LIJ Medical Center touts its expansion plans

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Officials from the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System updated residents on ongoing and planned construction projects costing hundreds of millions of dollars at the LIJ campus as civic members complained about LIJ employees and truck drivers using their streets during a meeting of Community Board 13 Monday night.

Bernie Dubin, North Shore-LIJ’s vice president of project management, said the health system is ahead of schedule in its construction of the Iris & Saul Katz Women’s Hospital and the LIJ inpatient pavilion on the LIJ campus.

The 10-story pavilion will house the women’s hospital along with 60 medical/surgical beds. The $265 million project is scheduled to be completed in March 2012.

“This is a remarkable building,” Dubin said, noting that it will feature state-of-the-art delivery suites and a surgical obstetrics unit.

Dubin said the facade will be replaced on the bed tower of LIJ Medical Center — a $25 million project. The exterior of the building will be glass and is scheduled to be completed September 2012, Dubin said.

“The campus will look amazingly different by mid-2012,” he said.

The health system is also constructing a pediatric intensive care unit with an eight-bed pediatric intensive care suite. Dubin said the unit will cost $9 million and will feature an expanded bone marrow transplant unit for high-risk babies. From 2005-09, Dubin said North Shore-LIJ spent $351 million in capital improvements and is expected to spend more than $544 million on projects from 2010 through 2014.

“The leadership is making a substantial investment in modernizing the LIJ campus,” he said.

Along with the construction have come complaints from members of the nearby Lost Community Civic Association, who said drivers of large trucks delivering supplies to the LIJ campus use their streets instead of more commercial roads and LIJ employees park in their neighborhood and block their driveways.

Dubin said construction workers are instructed to park at the iPark complex on Lakeville Road, across the street from the LIJ campus.

“We strongly discourage them from parking in the community or driving through the community,” he said.

As for LIJ employees, Dubin said they are instructed to park at the employee parking lot on the campus.

One woman interrupted, saying, “They don’t listen.”

Dubin also showed photographs of signs by LIJ’s loading dock, instructing drivers not to use roads within the Lost Community Civic Association’s area. Dianna Dalton, a Floral Park resident who lives within the Lost Community’s boundaries, said the neighborhood roads are not ideal for large trucks.

“Our secondary roadways can’t support the traffic,” she said.

Dubin said the health system is making improvements to access to the hospital through the Lakeville Road entrance and is working on constructing an internal road loop around the campus.

Dalton said Access-A-Ride, Long Island Bus and ambulettes use Hewlett Avenue instead of Lakeville Road. Lost Community Civic Association President Mike Castellano said he was concerned about hospital workers walking through neighborhood streets in scrubs, surgical masks and surgical hats.

“I don’t know what diseases they’ve been in contact with,” he said. “We don’t want our children exposed to something like that.”

Joseph Schulman, executive director of North Shore-LIJ’s Zucker Hillside Hospital, said the health system could make improvements that would alleviate the community’s concerns.

“We have to do a much better job internally communicating to our staff,” he said. “We need to do a much better job because of the level of development.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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