Publisher's desk

Greenwich Hospital’s Fifteen-Year Transformation



Bob Capazzo

A beautiful October afternoon marked the dedication ceremonies of the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Community Garden at Greenwich Hospital. The two-and-a-half-acre park area, accessible from both the hospital and Lake Avenue, is a fitting capstone to a remarkable fifteen-year construction program that began in January 1991with the employee parking garage on Lake Avenue and ended with the dedication of the Olive and Thomas J. Watson Jr. Pavilion in October 2005 and the razing of the South Wing last May that allowed room for the new garden.

In this relatively short span of time, every one of the hospital’s aged, outmoded and inefficient buildings was replaced by modern, well-planned structures that have allowed Greenwich Hospital to take its place at the forefront of community hospitals throughout the country. At a cost of $220 million, it was a gargantuan effort for a town of our size, and it would not have been possible without the many contributions, large and small, from members of our community amounting to $138 million, with the balance funded by low-interest loans. It had been the consensus of the hospital’s board of trustees, along with President Frank Corvino, that unless the entire complex was drastically upgraded, the hospital would not survive in the technologically challenging and increasingly competitive world of healthcare. The accuracy of their foresight was later confirmed when both United and St. Agnes hospitals in Westchester were forced to close.

As beautiful and impressive as the hospital’s new buildings are, they are still but bricks and mortar that allow miracles to take place within. Nearly every medical department boasts the latest diagnostic equipment and procedures. The capabilities of the hospital’s medical staff and the technological advances in equipment have grown dramatically just in the past year:

n The hospital gained approval for emergency angioplasty,  a procedure that can save lives and prevent the incapacity of  victims of stroke, the third-leading cause of death and a leading cause of permanent long-term disability. Greenwich Hospital has been certified as a Primary Stroke Center, one of only three other hospitals in the state so designated.

n Greenwich Hospital was the first in Fairfield County to offer VCT scans, which provide much clearer three-dimensional images and allow physicians a more detailed look at body tissues.

n Verging on the realm of science fiction is the da Vinci Surgical System whereby surgeons utilizing robotic technology create enhanced views of the surgical site and perform delicate operations with greater precision and minimal invasion. Greenwich Hospital was one of the first in this area to make it available.

Since 1998, when the survival of the hospital was questionable, its clientele has grown significantly. There are now over 12,000 inpatient admissions, with 40 percent of the patients coming from Westchester County, due in part to the closing of United Hospital. Outpatient admissions and ambulatory procedures have also increased dramatically. To meet this demand, the medical staff has grown to 495, including forty-five who joined just in the past year. In the meantime, revenue has more than doubled. Greenwich Hospital has become big business, and its 1,843 employees make it the town’s largest employer.

Yet both physical reconstruction and growth have been managed without diminution of service quality. Over the past six years, Greenwich has been ranked in the top 2 percent of hospitals nationally for patient satisfaction by the Press Ganey rating service. Some who have recuperated there have described the food and accommodations almost akin to the Waldorf. Recently, the American Geriatrics Society Foundation bestowed its Health in Geriatrics Award for the hospital’s various programs that address problems associated with aging. At the other end of the age scale, the hospital has expanded its maternity facilities and converted most doubles to single-occupancy rooms. Greenwich Hospital, always a popular birth address, has become even more so, with a 50 percent increase in births here.

We have much to be proud of in our town hospital and owe a vote of appreciation to all those who had the foresight and contributed time and money to ensure that Greenwich would retain a sustainable first-rate medical facility.