By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- The Mohawk Valley Eye Surgery Center under construction near Route 30 is scheduled for completion in May, with the first surgical procedures there likely to be scheduled for September or October.
The project was proposed and privately financed by Dr. David M. Kwiat of Kwiat Eye and Laser Surgery. The center is being constructed adjacent to his existing practice at Holland Circle Drive.
Ernie Belanger, the chief of operations at Kwiat's practice, said though contractors were able to construct much of the building through the winter, the project hit a snag early, pushing back what was initially anticipated to be a spring opening.
"The steel delivery was late, but the contractors are working with double crews now to get it done," he said.
Crews utilized plastic sheets that wrapped around the structure this winter so they could complete the exterior masonry despite frigid elements.
"They had hoses come through the tents to keep them warm," Belanger said.
Belanger explained though the structure will be in the company's hands by May, it will take time for the site to be inspected and approved.
First, the building has to undergo a state inspection to receive a state facilities number, then it has to be inspected by the Joint Commission for Accredited Hospitals, which could take up to 60 days.
Paperwork will then have to be submitted to the state for the center to be considered a Medicaid- and Medicare-approved facility, though Dr. Kwiat has already been granted the necessary credentials for that work, Belanger said.
Services that will be available include surgeries related to glaucoma and cataracts, eyelid lifts and LASIK. Belanger expects the upward of 600 patients will receive services in the center's first year.
"We anticipate the number will go up once the center opens. Folks who sought treatment out of the area might switch to stay local," he said. "We'll have the latest cutting-edge technology right here. It will be the only location outside of the Albany area to provide these kind of services."
Upon completion, the building and equipment will have an estimated worth of roughly $1.5 million, Belanger said. Dr. Kwiat is personally financing the project with his own funds and loans.
"It's a huge investment, but this is a medically under-served area," Belanger said. "I think it says a lot about Dr. Kwiat's commitment to this area."
Routine eye care and LASIK surgery are currently offered at his existing facility, but LASIK will be moved to the surgery center, Belanger said, and the other site will continue to operate after the center opens.