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Published: Tuesday, 5/24/2005

Mercy begins work on new heart center

BY LUKE SHOCKMAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
An artist's rendering shows how the 135,000-square-foot, $50 million Regional Heart Center at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center will look when it is completed by July, 2007. An artist's rendering shows how the 135,000-square-foot, $50 million Regional Heart Center at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center will look when it is completed by July, 2007.
MERCY Enlarge

Mercy Health Partners marks the start of construction today on a $50 million heart center, a facility Mercy officials hope patients will seek out for its comfortable surroundings as well as features allowing patients to avoid "road trips."

The Regional Heart Center at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, which will be connected by an enclosed skyway to the nearby St. Vincent on Cherry Street in Toledo, is expected to be completed by July, 2007. One key design element of all 75 private rooms in the four-story structure will be the ability to care for patients with minor heart problems all the way up to patients needing intensive care treatment.

This feature, along with rooms twice the size of existing patient rooms at St. Vincent, will allow most care to take place in the room and prevent the need to move patients back and forth to different areas.

These "road trips" are now common at St. Vincent, where heart treatment areas are spread throughout the hospital, according to Dan Barbee, clinical nurse manager of the St. Vincent cardiac ICU unit.

"For the first time, all of our cardiac services will now be under one roof," Mr. Barbee said.

The opening of the new center will also free up space at St. Vincent, where $40 million worth of renovations are taking place, work that should convert almost all of the hospital's rooms to private.

Dr. Tom Welch, a cardiologist at St. Vincent who's on a committee overseeing the design of the 135,000-square-foot heart center, said one of the design challenges was trying to build in flexibility.

Heart treatment technology is rapidly advancing, and standard treatments today may no longer be the standard in 10 years.

He said Mercy made sure to build in space for high-tech scanners, such as CT or MRI machines, that might someday replace procedures such as cardiac catheterization.

Mercy officials are hopeful the state-of-the art center attracts more patients in the future.

If that occurs, it would be a nice financial boost for St. Vincent - heart care is one of the most lucrative programs at a hospital, Dr. Welch said.

Mercy's rival, ProMedica Health System, also intends to build a heart center, though on a smaller scale.

Their center will be part of the previously announced $156 million renovation project at Toledo Hospital and referred to as the Toledo Hospital Heart Center.

It will cost $4.5 million, be located on the ground floor of Toledo Hospital, where the old emergency department was, and is scheduled to open this November. It will house outpatient services only.

Contact Luke Shockman at:

lshockman@theblade.com

or 419-724-6084.



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