It's a milestone day at UPMC Hamot.  A groundbreaking ceremony was held today for a new multi-million dollar patient care tower.  It's the biggest construction project ever at the hospital.


The hospital has experienced a lot of growth, especially over the past seven years, when Hamot joined the UPMC system. Today it set a record for the number of inpatient admissions, so it's looking forward to the day when the new building is opened. But that won't be for awhile.


The groundbreaking ceremony marked the official beginning of the construction project. The construction will not be finished until December of 2020.  The building will not be opened to patients until 2021.


The tower will be seven stories high and the additional space is badly needed. UPMC Hamot set a record with well over 400 beds being filled  today. 30% of the hospital's patients come from outside Erie County.  A lot of those people are trauma patients.  The new building will have 64 ICU beds.  That's an increase of 24 beds. A giant upgrade in the hospital's imaging department will also be inside the new building. And talk about strategic planning.   There's no specific plan right now on how the rest of the patient care tower will be used, except that it is being built  to handle future growth.


"Strategically, we took advantage of having 3 or 4 floors of shelf space because we know we're going to continue to grow. We're going to continue to add.  We have the luxury to be able to do that with those spaces,” said Mark Raimy, UPMC Hamot Board President.


The cost of the project, as it stands right now, is $111 million. That cost will rise to $175 million when all the floors are filled in the future.