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Project Deborah Heart and Lung Center, New Jersey’s only specialty heart, lung, and vascular Hospital, ceremoniously broke ground Monday on a $108 million capital expansion and renovation project that will add 36 private patient rooms and complete numerous upgrades throughout the facility.

Appropriately named DEBORAH100: The Project, the groundbreaking coincides with Deborah’s 100th anniversary celebration this year. This is the first major capital expansion at Deborah’s Browns Mills campus since the mid-1990s, when the hospital added and renovated more than 120,000 square feet of space, and then again in 2018 when a 60,000-square-foot Medical Office Building was dedicated.

For the current expansion project, Deborah worked with EwingCole, a Philadelphia architectural and engineering firm. NJBIA member Torcon, Inc., headquartered in Red Bank, is the general contractor for the job. The work is financed by an $88 million U.S. Department of Agriculture low-interest loan for rural development; $10 million from Greater Commercial Lending; and a capital fundraising campaign by the Deborah Hospital Foundation that raised the necessary balance of funds.

The project includes a three-story vertical addition to existing hospital space with 36 new patient rooms and the renovation of three existing patient care units afterward, bringing the hospital’s total licensed bed count to 95. There will also be upgrades to the hospital’s cardiac catheterization labs, a new pharmacy clean-room, and new robotic technology in the electrophysiology labs. Throughout the new construction and renovations, the most advanced digital and electronic systems have been integrated.

“Deborah clinical and support staff were fully engaged in the planning of the new and renovated space,” said Joseph Chirichella, president and CEO of Deborah Heart and Lung Center. “Our Facilities Team created a simulated patient room to the exact drawing specifications where staff was able to provide their suggestions for how the space should be designed. When completed, all patient rooms will be private, all new rooms will be critical care and isolation capable, and there will be a floor of dedicated respite space for staff with indoor and outdoor covered lounges as well as quiet rooms.”

Joseph Manni, Deborah executive vice president and COO, is overseeing the project, which began prior to the COVID-19 pandemic with the goal of increasing critical care beds and enhancing patient privacy.

“The pandemic has served to reinforce our vision of these needs and fortify our resolve to continue providing the highest quality cardiac, pulmonary, and vascular care in the region,” Manni said.

Deborah Heart and Lung Center is an Alliance member of the Cleveland Clinic Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute. Deborah has been a regional and national leader throughout its history, from performing the first open heart surgeries in New Jersey, to running one of the highest volumes of Left-Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) implant programs in the region today.

“Unveiling new patient care units and modernizing existing space is an exciting anniversary present to share with the community,” said Chirichella. “Deborah has long been a beacon of hope, research, innovation, and medical miracles that have saved hundreds of thousands of lives over the decades. All of this has been accomplished with our hallmark of kindness and compassion, and without causing financial distress to our patients.”