ITHACA, N. Y. — At their meeting next week, the town of Ithaca planning board will be taking their first look at a proposed addition to the behavioral health unit of Cayuga Medical Center (CMC).

The addition is only the latest in a series of renovations and expansions undertaken by the medical center over the past several years. An aging population and increases in healthcare coverage have led to an increased demand for medical services, both in breadth and with specialties. Jobs in healthcare were responsible for 18% of the nation’s job growth in 2015, and more specifically, Cayuga Medical Center has added over 500 jobs in the past decade.

CMC’s plans call for a 6,000 square-foot (SF) addition on the second floor for an expansion of the behavioral health wing, and the renovation of 12,350 SF of existing space. The addition will include patient rooms, a group therapy room and dining/social spaces, and is being built on top of another addition that opened in 2012. Local design firm HOLT Architects, which has extensive experience with medical facilities and has previously designed additions to CMC’s complex, will be the project architect. The exterior plans call for a pre-cast concrete finish with Low-E tinted windows.

“The need for behavioral health services has been increasing in recent years,” reads the project narrative. “The unit will be upgraded with an addition to allow flexibility of bed space between adolescent and adult units, improve and increase treatment space, and upgrade support services on [sic] the unit.”

The application to the town of Ithaca states that the hospital’s helipad will be moved temporarily to accommodate construction, and 30 staff parking spaces will be temporarily used as a staging area. There isn’t any mention of new jobs will being created by the expansion. An inquiry phone call to CMC’s public relations office was not returned.

Unlike many new projects, the comparatively modest size of the expansion, along with the minimal impact of the second-floor addition on stormwater facilities and soil erosion, means that it may well receive final site plan approval at the board’s meeting on Tuesday.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.