Tompkins Weekly

Cayuga Park medical complex to open its doors Oct. 9



Cayuga Park, a new medical center on Route 13, lit up at night. Photo by Joe Scaglione.

Cayuga Park on Route 13 will open its doors Oct. 9, welcoming patients to its women’s care department on the spacious and light-filled fifth floor. The department encompasses several different specialties, including gynecological care, breast care and primary care.

“It’s been a journey to get here, and we’re excited to welcome patients into the building so they can see what has been transforming that location on Route 13,” said Jeffrey Penoyer, vice president of ambulatory services for Cayuga Health System and chief operating officer for Cayuga Medical Health Associates.

Cayuga Immediate Care is moving from its Arrowwood Drive location to Cayuga Park with an opening date of Oct. 19, and Cayuga Primary Care will move from State Street and open on Oct. 30.

Cayuga Renaissance GYN is relocating to Cayuga Park as well and will be ready to receive patients at the new building Nov. 7, Penoyer said.

This mural and light fixture are a prime example of the eye-catching interior design seen throughout Cayuga Park. The colors, lighting and materials were chosen for a calming effect to help relax patients. Photo by Joe Scaglione.

Potential patients can envision an experience wherein they visit their primary care doctor for a specific issue, then walk down the hall to consult with the gynecological or breast care department.

“It’s often a faster resolution,” Penoyer said, adding that in the future patients may be able to go downstairs to the building’s imaging department and receive those test results on the same day.

“It’s really transforming what the experience will be for patients,” Penoyer said. “We want to make sure it’s a one-stop shop for women’s health, and we’re looking forward to integrating imaging services with that.”

The property will also eventually include affordable housing, retail space and the Ithaca Community Gardens green space.

The opening of the new facility will result in the consolidation of a number of practices across the community.

“But we are hiring and expanding in some specific areas,” Penoyer said.

Cayuga Park is designed to help address two of what Penoyer said are the area’s biggest current needs: walk-in immediate care and primary care.

Additional staff and resources will be needed to help cover the facility’s immediate care hours, which will be expanded from eight hours per day — the hours Cayuga Medical currently offers — to 10 hours, and eventually 12 hours per day.

Immediate care centers are primarily used to treat patients who have an injury or illness that requires immediate care but is not serious enough to warrant a visit to an emergency room, states the Cayuga Health website.

“We’re really excited about expanding immediate care,” Penoyer said. “It’s a really busy service for us.”

Part of the waiting room on the first floor of Cayuga Park on Route 13, opening soon. Photo by Joe Scaglione.

The eventual integration of on-site x-rays will mean that patients no longer have to leave to go to a separate building for x-rays. “It will be all in one building,” Penoyer said.

The location of the new building, which is relatively close to downtown Ithaca and on a main bus route, improves access to care for those who do not have their own reliable transportation, Penoyer pointed out.

Cayuga Health also plans to grow its virtual health care program so that patients can see a doctor from the comfort of their home. Then, if the physician determines that a patient needs to be seen in person, that patient can be referred directly to Cayuga Park’s immediate care department.

At the moment, the main priority is opening the building for women’s services. The department features a design that supports an “on stage and off stage” approach to care. This means that care teams will be isolated to specific areas that are not visible from the places where patients enter and exit their rooms.

“It’s a quieter, calmer approach to health care,” Penoyer said. “Patients won’t have to walk right by the nurses’ stations and hear all the chatter of them talking about patients. … [This care model] ensures their privacy is being respected and that they are receiving care in a quiet atmosphere, and that the provider is really focused on them because there is not a lot of background noise or distractions.”

He added that the approach is currently being used at Cayuga Primary Care Community Corners Internal Medicine, where it has been very well received. 

The paint colors and materials throughout the building were chosen to have a calming effect. Though there were very few people in the building Friday, those who got off the elevator on the fifth floor were greeted with the warm glow of a gas fireplace encased with glass. Its color-changing artificial coals slowly cycled through the rainbow from pink to yellow to green. 

Hanging throughout were several large, oblong light fixtures. The walls were decorated with purple and blue swirls. 

Although the building is located on busy Route 13, inside, the fifth floor is very quiet. Through numerous large windows patients will have views of the area’s higher education institutions and, in the opposite direction, lake views.

Future patients can also look forward to a wider availability of primary care.

“We recognized the need for expanded primary care in our community,” said Penoyer. “In our community, it’s a struggle for patients to establish care with a primary care provider.” This issue is not unique to Tompkins County but reflects a nationwide need for more primary care physicians, he added.

Cayuga Health is not only in the process of recruiting more primary care physicians but is looking to add more of them to the area by training them through the Cayuga Medical Center internal medical residency program and keeping residents here after graduation.

“We’re growing our own staff of primary care providers through our residency program,” he explained. “We’re able to retain those primary care providers, and we’re very excited about that.”

Currently there are 30 residents in the training program. Nine of the 11 most recent graduates of that program accepted positions within Cayuga Health System.

“I think that speaks to the education they are receiving through Cayuga,” Penoyer said, “as well as the environment in which they are receiving their education and, because the program is focused on developing primary care providers, those individuals are wanting to stay in primary care, so we have been successful in keeping them in those positions.”

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