A sign of progress Tuesday as doctors, nurses and administrators at the Erie County Medical Center signed a steel beam, completing the outside structure of what will soon be a brand new emergency and trauma department.

  • The final steel beam of ECMC's new emergency and trauma department was raised
  • The $58 million project is expected to be finished in May 2020
  • Improvements include larger rooms, more space for patients and families, and upgraded technology

"This will mean that here in Buffalo, we have the newest and greatest emergency department in the United States," said Dr. Samuel Cloud, part of the emergency medicine team at ECMC.

About 70,000 patients come through their unit each year, and their current space was built for about half that number, according to Cloud.

"The space is tired. It's cramped and when you're in a cramped space, it's very loud. A lot of sick patients in the hallway. It leads to a lot of stress for the providers and for the patients," Cloud said.

Tom Quatroche, ECMC’s CEO, said the new department will have larger rooms, more places for families to wait with patients, and improved technology.

"We're actually going to have radiology right next to our trauma rooms, which is not in many places in the country and it's actually going to save lives," Quatroche said.

Saving lives is the ultimate goal, something Quatroche says the region's Level I trauma center will be better equipped to do if disaster strikes based on the upgrades and new location on the ground level. 

"If God forbid we ever had a mass casualty in Western New York, we're going to be able to enter this building from many different points," Quatroche said.

In its first-ever fundraising campaign for the capital improvements, ECMC raised $14 million to help pay for the $58 million project. Raising the final steel beam brings it one step closer to opening next May.