It wasn’t too long ago that the former St. Joseph Hospital in Cheektowaga was on the “endangered” list. Now, it’s about to embark on a $3.5 million ambulatory surgery center project.

One of nine hospitals recommended for closure by a state commission in 2006, it won a temporary reprieve under a limited operating certificate with Sisters of Charity Hospital, with which it subsequently merged. However, that operating certificate had a June 2011 expiration date.

“The hospital kind of had handcuffs on it,” said Marty Boryszak, vice president of operations at St. Joseph Campus. “We didn’t know what the future held.”

Then, in late 2010, the state Department of Health granted permanent life status on the operating certificate for Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus – as it’s now known. And when it comes to enhancing services and facilities at the Harlem Road campus, the Catholic Health institution has been making up for lost time.

Demolition could begin next month on a $3.5 million project to relocate a freestanding ambulatory surgery center in Amherst to a second-floor space formerly occupied by gastrointestinal services.

A new GI suite, which cost approximately $2 million, opened earlier this year in space vacated by the emergency department. “That’s one of our largest outpatient services,” Boryszak noted.

Last year, the hospital also purchased a $1.7 million da Vinci Surgical System for minimally invasive robotic surgery.

“We added a portfolio of services ... that previously wasn’t here,” Boryszak said.

The latest project received site plan approval earlier this month from the Cheektowaga Town Board. The Sisters Ambulatory Surgery Center had opened in 1998 on Spindrift Drive in Amherst.

Over at the St. Joseph Campus, its new second-floor location will be expanded by 2,090 square feet onto an adjoining roof. It will house three operating rooms, nine private pre- and post-surgical holding areas, and an expanded waiting space will include family restrooms and a pediatric waiting area.

“We try to think about all the things, not just the person going into surgery,” Boryszak said.

The projected completion date for the surgery center is mid-2014.