NEWARK, NJ — Leaders of Newark and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center broke ground Tuesday on a major construction project that will give the South Ward’s premier medical facility a whole new look and increase its capacity.

Newark Beth Israel and the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey, which have provided services in Newark for nearly a century, are set to receive a new lobby, an expanded emergency room, renovated Intensive Care Units, a new cardiac care center and a maternity unit.

CEO Darrell Terry said Beth Israel’s brick facade will receive a more modern-looking makeover. 

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“Today we begin to match our external appearance with our great internal accomplishments. We’re excited for what this means for our community,” he said. 

Terry said most of the project funds are being taken from Beth Israel’s operating budget, and the hospital will look to fundraise about 25% from its donors. Leading up to 2020, Beth Israel has seen a steady increase in patients that pushed Beth Israel’s leadership to look toward expanding. 

An open glass lobby and community center will take the place of the foreboding brick that stands now along Lyons Avenue, providing space for patients to convene. 

“For years I’ve been driving down Lyons Ave and I see the brick walls, I see the building, and it just doesn’t say who we are,” said Julie Cabaleiro, MD, President of the Medical Staff at NBI and Chldren's Hospital of NJ. “Now, we’re going to have a brand-new building with glass transparency, people are going to come in and see the new lobby and easy-to-read signs.”

The emergency room will grow by 4,000 square feet and include nine new treatment areas in the adult department, three in pediatrics and one new fast-track treatment area. A separate waiting area will be available for families in pediatrics as well. 

A new addition in Dr. Arash Salemi is expected to increase volume in the hospital’s cardiac care program, Terry said, spurring construction that will place its leading Heart Transplant Center, Advanced Lung Disease and Transplant Program, and Valve Center in one facility, which will include a hybrid operating room. 

Terry said the lobby is scheduled to begin construction in finish November of 2021 while the rest of the renovations will be completed in 18 to 24 months. 

“It’s not just about bringing the outside in and the inside out, this is a campus. It’s not a single building, and it’s only a beginning,” said Marc E. Berson, RWJBarnabas Health chair. 

The 34 new private rooms in the maternity unit will complement the renovation of NBI’s Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey Mother-Baby Unit. 

Mayor Ras Baraka, a South Ward Community member who lives near and utilizes NBI, said he is rooting for the successful completion of the renovation project. 

“This is my community, my neighborhood, so I have selfish reasons for wanting to see Beth Israel do well. It is the center of this neighborhood, I want it to do well for the South Ward and the entire city of Newark,” he said.