Two new emergency rooms will be in place once the years-long project is completed at summer’s end.
Harlem Hospital Center’s $325 million upgrade will finally be complete this summer with the addition of two new emergency rooms.
The storied and often cash-strapped public hospital has been renovating for the last eight years, demolishing antiquated buildings and constructing a new wing.
The gleaming, six-story Mural Pavilion opened last year, a big turnaround from just two years ago when city cuts forced the hospital to downsize.
By moving the emergency departments and level 1 trauma center from the adjacent Martin Luther King Jr. Pavilion into the new, larger building, the hospital expects to increase the number of patients it can serve.
“We will double our capacity to treat the most seriously ill and injured,” said Denise Soares, executive director of the hospital.
Good news for a facility that currently treats over 250,000 patients annually with just 272 beds, down from 400 in 2004.
Residents said they hope more capacity means less wait time at the hospital, which is notorious for its long emergency room lines.
But some questioned the priorities behind the hospital’s pricey new addition.
“Hospitals always have enough money for shiny new buildings, but never enough to hire more doctors or pay more nurses,” said a nurse at the hospital who wished to remain anonymous.
A community fixture since it opened in the heart of Harlem in 1887, the hospital was the first major medical facility to hire a black surgeon. It was also the birthplace of famed author James Baldwin and where Martin Luther King Jr.’s life was saved after he was stabbed by a crazed woman in 1958.
Construction on the new pavilion started in 2005, and includes a recently finished facade decorated by preserved murals, originally commissioned by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project in 1936.
The new art-filled wing currently houses surgical facilities, operating rooms, a modernized radiology center, and an adult intensive care and burn unit.
The hospital’s upgrades also include expanding the asthma treatment center with separate units for adults and children, as well as a new CT scan room.
“I personally use Harlem Hospital for my care and am committed to ensuring the highest standard of medical care for this community,” said councilwoman Inez Dickens.
A hospital spokeswoman said she expects the Mural Pavilion to be completed with the opening of the new emergency facilities by the end of the summer.
The old emergency rooms in the MLK Jr. Pavilion will be re-purposed by the hospital.
By Laignee Barron / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS