One hundred and twenty years ago, when Richmond University Medical Center was first established as St. Vincent’s Hospital, surgeons did their work in the Villa Building, a Victorian mansion that is still part of the campus. Patients were often at higher risk as surgeons worked to save their lives before the advent of antibiotics, anesthesia and infection control.
The unveiling of a $42 million state-of-the-art surgical unit at RUMC highlights just how far surgery has come. Named for two community champions, the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff Surgical Pavilion ushers in a new level of patient care.
“Today we add this world-class surgical pavilion to our roster of enhancements that will keep our hospital at the forefront of modern medicine,” Daniel J. Messina, PhD FACHE, president and chief executive officer, told nearly 300 guests at the December 13 ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“We stand in the new home of a revitalized surgery program – a program whose quality and outcomes will be unrivaled on our Island and among the very best among our peer institutions in the city,” added Timothy C. Harrison, chair of the RUMC Board of Trustees.
Located directly above the Emergency Department in a gleaming addition at the back of the hospital, the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff Pavilion features 10 state-of-the-art operating suites, three of which are designed to accommodate robotic-assisted surgery.
Messina and Harrison praised the herculean efforts in design, fundraising and construction that resulted in completion of the 40,000-square-foot pavilion during the challenges of a pandemic.
The project was made possible “because of all of you who never gave up,” added Borough President Vito Fossella, acknowledging the perseverance and compassion of the hospital leadership and staff.
“You get to save people’s lives – how awesome is that?” Fossella reflected. “For that, I am grateful.”
The Chazanoff Surgical Pavilion is the third in a series of major enhancements at RUMC that are part of a $250 million historic transformation of the 120-year-old hospital. The new James P. Molinaro Emergency Department opened last January, and a new Medical Intensive Care Unit welcomed patients in August 2022.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” Jay Chazanoff shared as he prepared to cut the ribbon on the unit named for him and his late wife, Lucille, who passed away in 2020. “Today is a significant milestone for RUMC … that will raise the bar for health care in the community.”
He said his $2.5 million gift to the hospital is a way of giving back to his hometown “with a sense of joy and a sense of purpose.”
Serendipitously, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on what would have been Lucille’s 77th birthday. She was born on Dec. 13, 1946.
“Happy birthday, Sweetheart,” her husband said, gazing upward from the podium. “I hope you are pleased with your birthday present.”
Following the program, guests toured the facility, appreciating the rare glimpse at an area of the hospital that will soon be off-limits as a sterile environment.
In addition to Borough President Fossella, community leaders in attendance included Assemblyman Charles Fall, Assemblyman Michael Reilly, City Councilman David Carr, City Councilman Joseph Borelli and Former Borough President James P. Molinaro.