FOR RELEASE: 2/17/2013Contact: John Cappiello, (203) 384-3637

Ground broken for Grant Street Plaza; Project to transform area outside Bridgeport Hospital main entrance

Bridgeport Hospital has broken ground for its Grant Street Plaza project, a seven-month undertaking that will create a pedestrian plaza or “pocket park” between the hospital’s main entrance and the Agnes & Ernie Kaulbach Parking Pavilion.

Joining hospital officials for the Jan. 24 event were Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, members of the City Council and project contractors.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch (third from right) joins members of the City Council and hospital officials, including President & CEO Bill Jennings (third from left) to formally break ground for the Grant Street Plaza project.

“Grant Street Plaza will create a significant change in patients and visitors’ first impression of Bridgeport Hospital,” said hospital Chief Operating Officer Norm Roth. “It will be warm, friendly, preserve access for patients and visitors, and will better integrate the front of the hospital with the surrounding community.”

Mayor Finch said Grant Street Plaza is just the beginning of a larger vision of a healthcare corridor encompassing the hospital and neighboring Harding High School. “The relationship between the hospital and Harding High School will help foster healthcare careers and create the next generation of doctors, nurses and other health professionals,” Mayor Finch said. “Bridgeport Hospital is a massive contributor to the physical, mental and economic health of the city.”

The mayor added that the project would also benefit the neighborhood by reducing stormwater runoff. Addressing hospital officials, City Council President Tom McCarthy said, “You did it right. You came to the Council, the community and the neighborhood. You listened to us and you made changes not only to preserve the neighborhood but to improve it.” City Council members Andre Baker and James Holloway and State Senator Andres Ayala also took part in the groundbreaking ceremony.

Bridgeport Hospital President and CEO Bill Jennings thanked Mayor Finch, the City Council and other city officials for their support of the project. He also noted that the idea for Grant Street Plaza was inspired almost two years ago during a conversation with plastic and reconstructive surgeon Joseph (Brad) O’Connell, MD.

During the current phase of construction, vehicles can still access the Kaulbach Parking Pavilion (the hospital’s main parking garage) from Central or Mill Hill Avenues. The front entrance of the hospital on Grant Street and the skybridge to the hospital from the Kaulbach Parking Pavilion also remain open to pedestrians.

In addition, the former Radiation Medicine parking area to the right of the main entrance will not be accessible to vehicles during construction except for the mobile PET/CT scanner. Radiation Medicine patients are now treated at the hospital’s new Trumbull Radiation Oncology Center at 5520 Park Ave.

Later phases of the Grant Street Plaza project will include new walkways, lighting and landscaping.

During the past two years, Bridgeport Hospital has modernized its main lobby with new furniture, floor coverings and lighting. The hospital Auxiliary helped fund a new water sculpture, framed by plantings, just inside the front entrance. New signage has been installed not only in the lobby but throughout the hospital to help direct patients and visitors.

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Part of Yale New Haven Health System, Bridgeport Hospital is a 383-bed acute care hospital (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital) serving parts of Fairfield and New Haven counties. The hospital admits more than 18,000 patients and receives more than 240,000 outpatient visits annually.