New Haven — Yale-New Haven Hospital Monday unveiled plans to build up its St. Raphael campus with a 505,000-square foot, $838 million neuroscience center for research and treatment of diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and strokes.
The announcement took place at a press conference held inside a tent on a parking lot at 659 George St., where the hospital system plans to build the new center.
The project will develop a neuroscience focus for the St. Raphael campus while Yale’s cancer hospital takes the lead at its original York Street campus. Yale School of Medicine researchers will play an active research role at the new center. (Yale-New Haven took over the former Hospital of St. Raphael in 2012 as it faced the prospect of closing.)
At the announcement, Yale-New Haven Health CEO Marna Borgstrom said the new project tackles three goals:
• Easing the shortage of beds at the hospital, especially at its 1950s-era York Street campus East Pavilion, so that patients need not have roommates. “Our beds have been full nearly every single day,” she said.
• Seizing opportunities for investment in research into neuroscientific diseases.
• “Moving closer to the eradication of insidious disease” through “innovative therapies and new treatments.”
“The project will be built within the existing footprint of the hospital campus, bordered by Sherman Avenue and George Street. It will shift the main entrance of the hospital from Chapel Street to George Street. An existing parking garage on Orchard Street will be extended to George Street to accommodate patients and a new 200-space underground garage will support the facility,” a hospital release stated..
The new center will provide an important “link to our research,” Yale School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said at the event. “Where Yale stands out in the nation is in the neurosciences,” capturing the most National Institute of Health research funding. Its current research includes new ways to reduce strokes and Parkinson’s and pain-reduction alternatives to opioids. Yake is part of an NIH network for clinical trials and a northeast ALS clinical trial consortium. The “number-one priority” for the space his school just took over at the Alexion 100 College St. tower will involve neuroscience research, he said.
“New Haven is a central hub” for the life sciences,” Gov. Lamont said at the event. He spoke of improving transportation and housing so more scientists can live and work here.
The city’s counting on $8 million in building fees form the project over three years.
There’s no understating the significance” of the new center for “long-term prosperity,” health care, and jobs, Mayor Toni Harp said at the event. She echoed Lamont’s call to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure to support economic initiatives like this one.
She and Board of Alders President Tyisha Walker spoke of how “three brilliant women” who worked on the deal — they and Borgstrom “got it done.”
“We’re going to get some jobs out of this” as well, Walker noted.
Earlier, during her most recent appearance on WNHH FM’s “Mayor Monday” program, Harp called the deal a big boost for the city. She said the new center will benefit public health in addition to creating jobs and spinning off millions of dollars in related economic impact. She predicted that the new center will advance neuroscientific research and care in ways “the medical establishment has had trouble addressing.”
One listener asked Harp if she believes “people will receive fair care as YNHH will ultimately have a monopoly in New Haven County.” She responded that the hospital system’s teaching role and its widespread free care will prove a plus on balance. She also predicted a shift in the balance of power between hospitals and insurance companies given consolidation in the health care industry, which she suggested could enable a “stronger medical role” in decided what kind of care gets coverage.
This story first appeared in the New Haven Independent.