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Construction commences on Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital's new central utility plant

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Fences surround one-third of the parking lot north of the main entrance to Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital, signaling the start of construction of a $90 million central utility plant, which will advance the capabilities of the hospital’s electrical system.

“There was a lot of ground work to get to this point, and to get all the approvals that we needed,” said Joe Calderone, senior vice president of communications at MSSN. “The good news is the construction is starting, and we really want our neighbors to be aware of what’s going on.”

Calderone said that the hospital’s current power plant is 65 years old and needs to be upgraded. MSSN officials acquired funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to complete the project, because the plant is on the ground floor and susceptible to flooding. Calderone said the new one would harden the hospital against potential future storms.

Planning for the new central utility plant has taken many years, Calderone said, because hospital administrators had to receive approval from FEMA and Nassau County and Town of Hempstead officials.

The power plant is part of a $400 million long-term strategic growth initiative that will transform the hospital’s Oceanside and Long Beach campuses. Expansion projects include the construction of a four-story Southwest Addition, doubling the size of the Emergency Department and adding 90 new suites; a three-story parking structure; and the central utility plant and electrical emergency facility on the hospital’s main campus in Oceanside. Additionally, there are plans for a $40 million medical arts pavilion at the Long Beach campus.

As part of the partnership agreement with South Nassau, the Mount Sinai Health system has committed $120 million in capital contributions to the extension, and FEMA funds will also be used for the utility plant and the hospital’s new addition.

Calderone said the Southwest Addition would break ground in June, and the new plant was necessary. “In order to build it, you need power,” he said. “This will include replacing current equipment and upgrading it, while providing more power for decades to come.”

The central utility plant will be built by E.W. Howell, a New York City-based firm that was selected through a public bid. Since the project requires moving a great deal of equipment, it is expected to require two years to complete. Ground will be broken on the Southwest Addition in June, and work will take about 18 months. The parking garage and Long Beach addition will also need 18 months to complete.

The utility plant will fortify the hospital’s electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems against future storms and benefit the community by using energy resources more efficiently. It will be resistant to flooding and have the ability to withstand hurricane-force winds. A protective acoustic screen will encapsulate the facility, which will help mitigate noise. In addition, it will include the installation of the latest advancements in emergency power, heating and cooling water systems for the hospital.

Dana Sanneman, the executive director of public affairs for South Nassau, said the hospital’s administration understands the impact that construction could have on the facility’s neighbors and patients.

“We’re putting up signs around campus to keep our neighbors informed of what’s going on,” she said. “We’ve been in constant communication with our civic leaders, elected officials and neighbors.”

Calderone said that hospital officials are also conscious of the building’s proximity to Oceanside School No. 5, and have placed crossing guards near the school at release time to ensure that students and other pedestrians are safe. They also have construction management operators on site to control traffic flow.

Construction of the utility plant is taking place over one-third of the physician’s parking lot north of the hospital’s entrance. The hospital administration has taken steps to address parking issues during construction, including hiring the Lynbrook-based firm Parking Systems, which runs the valet parking at the hospital and provides parking attendants. When visitors drop off their cars, they can exchange cell phone numbers with the attendants and text them when ready to leave the hospital. This enables the firm to double and triple park cars, mitigating the loss of 250 parking spaces during construction. The hospital has also provided shuttles between the parking lot on Long Beach Road and Sunrise Highway for those who have to park far from the campus.

In May, South Nassau raised nearly $660,000 at its annual golf outing, which went toward the hospital’s expansion project. At the time, MSSN President and CEO Richard Murphy thanked those who supported the hospital’s goals. “We are very grateful to the community for supporting the much-needed expansion of our Emergency Department,” he said.