$33M Lewis County hospital project moves forward

Lewis County General Hospital renovation project

LOWVILLE, N.Y. (WWNY) - It’s been two years in the making and Tuesday night Lewis County Health System CEO Gerry Cayer crossed another check on his to-do list.

“You know, it’s another big step,” he said. “That’s how I like to think about it.”

The Lewis County Board of Legislators voted “yes” to provide bond funding for a $32.8 million project. It’s a decision legislator Randy LaChausse said was easy to make.

“We need to move forward,” LaChausse said. “Yes, it’s a big apprehensive project, but we need to have the critical care, our residents deserve the care close to home so they don’t have to travel an hour-and-a-half or even 45 minutes.”

The project includes renovating the existing medical-surgical inpatient floor and constructing a two-story surgical pavilion.

“Co-joining the surgical pavilion will be the relocation of our specialty practices,” Cayer said, “orthopedics, general surgery, and OBGYN services.”

Before the vote, there was a public hearing where community members could voice concerns and ask questions. One question: will the project include a new facility for the adult day health care program?

Cayer says due to the pandemic, that program is on hold, but there are plans to move the facility to the medical arts building as part of the project.

Cayer says the project is needed to bring more money and health access to Lewis County.

“There are multiple prongs,” he said. “One is, we want to be an attractive place for that next generation of physicians to come to work, but also live in our community. So physician recruitment and retention. The second is improving health access.”

Another question: how will this affect taxpayers?

“This will not affect the taxpayers of Lewis County if everything goes according to plan,” LaChausse said. “This should be totally funded by the profits of Lewis County General Hospital.”

Cayer says this is just another step in a long process. Next, the hospital will start the state government approval process, a process he calls “complicated,” but necessary to expand.

“We’ve got to keep our eye on the ball, we have to stay focused, and we have to be incredibly disciplined,” Cayer said. “The minute we let our guard down, that’s when projects like this can go south.”

Cayer says he’s eyeing 2022 for the project’s completion.

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