History of the Campuses and Buildings of the University of Rochester
United States Hotel Prince Street Campus Eastman School of Music Medical Center River Campus Mid-Campus South Campus Mt. Hope Campus Graduate, Family and Veteran Housing Central Utilities Other Off-Site Buildings
Medical Center New Strong Memorial Hospital

Strong Memorial Hospital in 1974

The pressing need for additional hospital space was recognized in the 1950s, and in 1962 a plan was developed to build a new three-story hospital building at west end of medical center with 10 new operating rooms. The second and third floors would include 60 patient beds and the ground floor would house cafeteria and kitchen. Total Bed capacity would increase to 573.  The City of Rochester's decided about the same time to get out of the hospital business and after some studies and negotiations the University took possession of the Municipal Hospital and 24 acres of land on July 1, 1963.  This enabled the construction of a new hospital building on the east end of the complex.

After years of planning, groundbreaking for the new hospital was held on May 14, 1969 by Dr. George Whipple and nurse Barbara Pinckney.  Construction was delayed by cost overruns and labor disputes, but the new Strong Memorial Hospital opened on February 24, 1975 when patients from the old hospital were moved o the new facility in a four-hour operation.  Among these patients was the first dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Dr. George Hoyt Whipple, who died the following year.  The emergency department was not completed at that time and was opened on May 1, 1976.

A Magnetic Resonance Imaging center was built in the G-4500 area in 1985.  This building will be demolished as part of the new Emergency Department expansion in 2022.  A new MRI center will open in the ground floor of the Ambulatory Care Center entry facility.

1962 "10 Million Goal Set for Fall Hospital Drive," Democrat and Chronicle, January 3, 1962, Page 1. | Part 2 |
Strong Memorial Hospital: $3,360,000. Proceed with first phase of a long range plan. This includes new operating rooms, delivery rooms, central supply room and other supporting areas for operating and delivery rooms. Also, additional surgical and obstetrical beds, an intensive care unit, a new kitchen, cafeteria and an additional modern medical record room, as well as more patients' rooms. Planners said this will enable Strong to provide a wider variety of services to patients and the community and to make full use of new developments in the medical sciences for the care of ill people.

1962 "Hospital Drive to Increase Capacity of Institutions," Democrat and Chronicle, June 27, 1962, Page 22.
Strong Memorial:  $3.36 million for new hospital building; $400,000 for new extended care unit. The new hospital building, still under planning, is envisioned as three-story structure at west end of medical center, and providing new surgery with 10 major operating rooms. Second and third floors would include 60 patient beds. The ground floor would house cafeteria and kitchen. Bed capacity would increase to 573.

1962 University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and Strong Memorial Hospital : preliminary schematic plans for expansion and modernization: presented July 11, 1962, by Wood and Tower

1963 Deed from the City of Rochester to the University of Rochester, July 24, 1963, $39,789, book 3495, page 133.
Rochester Municipal Hospital building and 24.03 acres.

1963 "UR Medical Center Plans $50 Million Expansion," Democrat and Chronicle, November 12, 1963, Page 1. | Part 2 |

1963 Architectural Space Program, Thomas Farr Ellerbe, October 26, 1962, Revised October 25, 1963

1963 Master plan for University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York, by Thomas Farr Ellerbe, October 25, 1963 | Floor and Unit Schematics |

1966 "Tomorrow On The Campus," Democrat and Chronicle, September 25, 1966, Page 1M.
New Hospital Planned a 3-Tower Complex

1969 "$56 Million Complex Started at Strong," Democrat and Chronicle, May 15, 1969, Page 1B.
Groundbreaking May 14, 1969 by Dr. George Whipple and nurse Barbara Pinckney.

1971 "Plans Unfinished for New Hospital," Campus Times, May 4, 1971, Page 2.

1974 The New Hospital, April 1974

1975 Built for care : Strong Memorial Hospital of the University of Rochester Medical Center. February 2, 1975 | advertising supplement in the Democrat and Chronicle |

1975 "The new, the old," Democrat and Chronicle, February 20, 1975, Page 7B.
Pneumatic tubes to carry laboratory specimens connect the new Strong Memorial Hospital, right, with labs in the Elmwood Medical Building on Mt. Hope Avenue. About 425 patients will be transferred from the old hospital, at left, into the new, $70.4 million structure Tuesday. The tubes run along Crittenden Boulevard and will be used until labs are moved into the hospital this spring.

1975 "Successful Operation," Democrat and Chronicle, February 26, 1975, Page 8B.
Sarah Beckens of 407 Hoffman St., is among the first of 380 patients to be moved from the old Strong Memorial Hospital to its new home next door yesterday. Hospital officials said there were no problems in the massive move to the 698-bed hospital. The new hospital was under construction for about 6 years and cost $70.4 million.  The move began at 8 a.m. and took 4 hours

1975 To each his farthest star:  The University of Rochester Medical Center -1925-1975, edited by Edward C. Atwater and John Romano.
Page 240:  Of special note is the importance of the land that was purchased by the University at the time of the transfer of the Rochester Municipal Hospital. This land provided the site for the construction of the completely new Strong Memorial Hospital to the east of the original structures, thus allowing the original Hospital to function fully throughout the construction phase of the new. The importance of this fact cannot be overemphasized, since it made possible the uninterrupted care of patients and the education of medical students, interns, and residents in the old hospital during the five years when the new was under construction.The land has also provided the space for the construction of an apartment building, the Dr. George W. Goler House, to provide housing for hospital employees, house staff, and students; and for the proposed new Eastman Dental Center, that will move from its location downtown to the campus of the Medical Center.
Pages 253-255:  The original plans for building the new hospital consisted of two stages: the initial stage, with operating rooms, radiology, and other supporting services and a few beds, to be followed by a second stage, containing the principal inpatient and ambulatory care facilities. It became evident that such staging would involve both serious delay and a very difficult period of two operations split between the new and old facilities. Therefore, the University, with the encouragement of the trustees, especially that of Mr. Marion Folsom and Mr. Joseph Wilson, made the decision to proceed with the construction of the entire hospital as rapidly as possible.
As a first step in preparation for the new Strong Memorial Hospital, an addition to Wing R, Wing R North, was planned and constructed. These new facilities made possible the transfer of psychiatric inpatients from Y-2 and thereby removed them from what would become a major communicating wing between the old and new hospital. In addition, Wing R North provided an increase of 25 inpatient beds in anticipation of the increase in size of the Medical School classes. Further, as support for the federal government's plan to establish community mental health centers, the basement and ground floors of Wing R North were planned to house this program and thereby more closely bind the needs of the community with the provision of care in the Medical Center.
Further preparation for the new hospital included removal of the tennis courts from in front of the Staff House and construction of new courts elsewhere. The Staff House itself was partially razed by removal of its wings, including the Staff House lounge.
Ground was broken for the foundation of the new hospital in 1969. During the succeeding year, excavation of the basement and pouring of foundations, basement walls, and the floor of the ground level were completed by the contractor, Conforti & Eisele, while the architects (Ellerbe and Company) completed the final drawings of the remainder of the structure.
With the completion of the foundations, bids were invited for the remainder of the building. The bid period, however, was concurrent with an extended strike in the Rochester construction trades and return of bids was delayed for several months. When they were received they were substantially higher than estimated and beyond the resources available. Therefore, all bids had to be rejected and a period of detailed reconsideration of the entire plans followed. With some reduction in the size of the new hospital and some redesign, especially of mechanical systems, a contract of manageable size was negotiated with Huber, Hunt and Nichols, General Contractors (Indianapolis) and awarded in May 1971.
The planning, constructing, equipping, moving, and development of programs to make these major construction projects fully productive has had a considerable impact on the Medical Center administration over the past ten years. It has been necessary to develop additional staff in engineering and in planning.  In spite of the great contributions made by these staff, it needs to be noted that the medical faculty played a major role in the planning and implementation of these building programs. Numerous faculty study groups developed the basic programs from which the architect planned the new structures. Thus, the decision to build multidisciplinary laboratories for education, the central design for the new inpatient facilities, and many of the other features of the new buildings were the result of planning by the medical faculty. A series of committees for each of the buildings worked closely with the architects until the final plans were determined, and planning committees and steering committees continued their work through the development of all the projects. While this has required untold hours of faculty administrative effort, if has brought to the new facilities the most realistic concepts for their actual use. The planning effort has been one of the features over the last decade that has drawn together faculty from many departments. Leadership has come from throughout the faculty, although special note should be taken of Dean Anderson's initiative and perseverance in beginning, organizing, and sustaining the planning effort. Dr. Frank McKee, associate dean, Dr. Leonard Fenninger, medical director, and Dr. Herbert Morgan, professor of microbiology, have all played major roles in the building project.

1976 "Gannett Center Dedicated at SMH," Rochester Review 34(4):35 (Summer 1976)
The Strong Memorial Hospital dedicated its new Frank and Caroline Gannett Emergency Center on May 1 in the main dining room of the hospital. The new Center went into full operation on May 4.  Speakers at the dedication were Mrs. Frank E. Gannett; John A. Scott, president of the Frank E. Gannett Newspaper Foundation, Inc., and Dr. John H. Morton, clinical director of the Emergency Center.  President Sproull presided at the ceremonies.  Gifts of $750,000 from the Gannett Foundation and $500,000 from Mrs. Gannett provided the necessary funds to cover the cost of completing the Center.  Only the shell for the emergency unit was completed at the time the new Strong Memorial Hospital was constructed; development of the Center was made possible with the Gannett gifts.  Maximum efficiency in the use of floor space has been achieved in the new Center, which occupies 22,000 square feet in contrast to 24,000 square feet in the old emergency area.

1985 "MR Imaging Center Opens at Strong," Campus Times, April 4, 1985, Page 4.
G-4500 area, which will be demolished for the upcoming Emergency Department expansion (2022).

2024 "Strong Memorial Hospital sets record for most patients on a single day." RochesterFirst.com, January 18, 2024
Strong Memorial Hospital had more patients Thursday morning than any other day in the hospital’s history.
URMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Apostolakos said there were 1,092 patients in the hospital Thursday morning. Hospital officials confirmed to News 8 that number was a hospital record.
Apostolakos said the hospital is licensed for 886 patient beds, meaning there were 206 patients in the hospital who did not have standard beds available for them.
“The reason for the number is we continue to care for the community,” Apostolakos said. “We are the center for trauma, burns, stroke, cardiac care, and we want those patients who are critically ill to come. If it wasn’t for the hard work of our faculty, staff, and nurses we wouldn’t be able to provide the care.”
The hospital opened a newly-renovated unit Thursday, “to help decompress what’s happening throughout the rest of the hospital,” Apostolakos said. He said nursing leaders worked to staff that unit so the hospital remained able to care for critically ill patients.
Though the hospital has seen a recent influx of patients with COVID, flu, and RSV, Apostolakos said only about 60 of the patients there Thursday were hospitalized for those reasons.
“The real problem now that’s made the issue worse is the alternate level of care patients. As you know our community doesn’t have enough staffed nursing home beds, and today we have more than 110 patients who are stable to go to a nursing home, but there’s just no place to take them.”
Apostolakos said the hospital was working with local nursing homes to address that issue.
The hospital is urging community members to utilize the emergency room for critical illness only, otherwise reach out to the medical system’s Get Care Now service to find an available urgent care center or schedule a telehealth visit.

© 2021 Morris A. Pierce