Officials break ground on new Jamaica Hospital emergency department expansion project

Hospital groundbreaking
Governor Kathy Hochul and Queens electeds break ground on Jamaica Hospital’s new Emergency Department on Friday, June 16.
Darren McGee/ Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Governor Kathy Hochul joined Jamaica Hospital officials and local electeds on Friday, June 16, for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the expansion of the hospital’s new Emergency Department that will improve access to quality emergency care in southeast Queens and neighboring communities. 

About 500 attendees were gathered outside in the Physicians Parking Lot, at 89-6 135th St., which will become the site of the new emergency room. 

This is the first major expansion of the hospital’s emergency department to occur in over three decades.The project is funded by a $150 million budget allocation from Hochul. The governor’s investment in healthcare, which is the largest in state history, will provide critical resources needed to help hospitals better serve their communities. 

“​​With this new beginning, we say that this community matters, this hospital matters, and we’re going to continue working together with this $150 million investment in the future of the health of this community. And as a result, more lives will be saved. We’ll enhance our psychiatric services because my God, people are going through so much right now,” Hochul said. “All the work that was being done to save lives from overdoses from fentanyl and opioids. We’re doing that right here in real-time. We have so much more to do, but this community deserves the finest institution, the finest facilities and the finest opportunity to get the best outcomes in life.” 

Governor Kathy Hochul delivers remarks at Jamaica Hospital Center Emergency Department Expansion and Modernization event on Friday, June 16.(Darren McGee/ Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

Jamaica Hospital has been part of the Queens community since 1891. Today, the hospital cares for a culturally diverse population of nearly 800,000 people, and is the busiest level 1 trauma center in New York City, the only Joint Commission accredited Comprehensive Stroke Center in Queens, and a Primary Heart Attack Center providing essential services to the community. The hospital has also been named one of America’s 250 Best Hospitals by Healthgrades for four consecutive years.

Over the years, Jamaica Hospital has made improvements to meet the needs of its community. One such improvement involved building a comprehensive campus in 1989, which included an emergency department with a capacity to treat 60,000 patients. The hospital’s patient population has grown significantly since then, creating a greater demand for emergency services. 

Currently, Jamaica Hospital’s emergency department takes in 120,000 patients. Its future state-of-the-art Emergency Department will be doubled in size and have the capacity to treat over 150,000 patients annually. In addition to increased space, the facility designed with efficiency and safety in mind will incorporate a layout that allows for better privacy, experience and safety. 

The new Emergency Department will feature four trauma rooms equipped with the latest technology to support the demands of the busiest Level 1 trauma center in New York City. There will be a total of 22 isolation rooms with negative air pressure to prevent the spread of airborne diseases such as COVID-19, and a total of 48 intensive care unit (ICU) beds. 

A rendering of the new emergency department expansion facility at Jamaica Hospital

The need for an increase in ICU beds was made apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic when Jamaica Hospital found itself at the epicenter of the outbreak treating a surge of critically ill patients. There will also be space bariatric and geriatric care, as well as mental health and drug dependent treatment areas. 

Construction on the site will begin in August and will take 24 months to complete, followed by renovations that will take 15 months to complete. 

A rendering of the new emergency department expansion project at Jamaica Hospital

Bruce Flanz, president and CEO of Jamaica Hospital, said the community and patients deserve nothing less.

“The physical plan improvements are critical to provide state-of-the-art care to our culturally diverse community, who have very significant social related needs,” Flanz said. “We applaud the governor for her commitment to health equity, and this project truly demonstrates that health equity is a significant priority for her.” 

What was once a dream is now a reality for Dr. Shi-Wen Lee, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Jamaica Hospital, who expressed his gratitude to the administration and support received in securing the grant for the ED project. 

“The grant we have received is not just a financial investment but a symbol of trust, belief and recognition of the work we do day in and day out,” Lee said. “Your advocacy and encouragement have played a crucial role in our success.” 

During his remarks, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. announced an additional $3 million for the hospital, as he commended its nurses, doctors and administrative staff who have taken care of Queens. 

“People have started to talk about how the city of New York has opened up, but may we not forget that the reason the city of New York is open right now is because of our healthcare heroes and sheroes who put their lives on the line at the height of this pandemic,” Richards said. “To the families of southeast Queens, we know high-quality healthcare has been hard to come by and we know Jamaica Hospital has done everything in its power to ensure that you get quality healthcare. But today, this investment is for you as well. This is an investment in each and every resident — from Rockaway to southeast Queens.” 

Congressman Gregory Meeks, who noted healthcare disparities in communities, vowed to continue working with his colleagues in the federal, city and state governments to secure more funding for the hospital to be equipped with the latest modern technology to service patients. 

“It’s time to change and update with the new facility and new medical equipment, so we can make sure people aren’t having any disparities in any community,” Meeks said. “Healthcare should not be accessible only to the rich — it should be a right to all. That’s what Jamaica Hospital stands for.”