UTICA, N.Y. -- Mohawk Valley Health System held a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday for the downtown Utica hospital. The symbolic event was driven by logistics -- people's schedules and a need to do it before winter completely takes hold, and doesn't signify the beginning of construction. Demolition of on-site properties is still underway. The groundbreaking offered those who got the project this far a chance to reflect on what all the work thus far has been for, and, to galvanize for the future.
"A new regional medical center allows us to operate in a building built for the way healthcare is delivered today and not built for the way healthcare was delivered decades ago," said MVHS President and CEO Darlene Stromstad. "It is an economic driver to our community. We will have in the short term hundreds of people that will be working in downtown."
MVHS administration, nurses and elected leaders all turned symbolic shovels of earth. The nurses said they were involved long before today.
"We have been to countless meetings. They have taken our opinion, our thoughts and what we feel is needed to give the best care to our patients and families, into consideration every step of the way," said RN, Laura Inman.
It's full speed ahead for the hospital; MVHS owns all the properties in the building footpring and demolition is underway. However, unsavory work remains for Oneida County, which is building the parking garage for the hospital. Four properties in that footprint refuse to sell. After the first of the year, the county will order appraisals and make offers; offers that have already been made by MVHS, and rejected.
"It's unfortunate to have to go to the aspect of eminent domain, but when 30-something other property owners have moved forward, shovels are in the ground, buildings are coming down. It's time to move," said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr. "I understand businesses and they don't want to leave, but if you're gonna stay here and nothing else is gonna be here, that doesn't make much sense, either."