BOWLING GREEN — A new $5 million health center owned and operated by Wood County Hospital will serve Bowling Green State University students and others in the college community.
The Falcon Health Center is located at the corner of South College Drive and East Wooster Street in a 23,000-square-foot building financed by the independent, nonprofit community hospital.
It replaces a university-run health center and is expected to save BGSU about $1.6 million a year in operating costs.
Hospital and university officials cut an orange ribbon — one of the university’s signature colors — Wednesday to celebrate the building’s completion.
University students, employees, and their families are among the largest groups served by the hospital, said hospital President Stanley Korducki.
“It makes sense to be closer to them, to know them really well, and to do it really well. But this isn’t something that most hospitals usually think about doing, so that’s why it’s a little out of the box…” he said.
Officials said the new center will serve not just students but also university faculty, staff, alumni, and — possibly at some point — the public. But Mr. Korducki said the center will focus on student health-care needs.
School spirit is visible in the design and decor of the new facility. Instead of sterile white, the center boasts splashes of orange on a wall in a front waiting room and on upholstered seats. The second floor features a big mural of Falcon mascots Freddie and Frieda. Windows frame campus views.
The two-story center includes about 20 exam rooms, procedure rooms, and space for intravenous therapy and patient education. It also has a drive-through pharmacy, a feature not offered at the old health center housed inside the health and human services building.
The new center’s location, on university land leased to the hospital, was once the site of the popular culture department. Despite protests from preservationists, a 1930s Montgomery Ward kit home was razed to make room for the new construction.
The pop culture department relocated to Shatzel Hall. BGSU spokesman David Kielmeyer said the university saw “an advantage” in moving the program to the academic core of campus.
The new health center arrangement is an example of the university’s effort to privatize some services. It signed a long-term food-service contract in 2010 with Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services.
The health center is now staffed by hospital employees, not university employees. BGSU employees who previously worked at the university-run center could choose to work for the hospital at the new site. Eight of the 22 full-time and part-time BGSU employees working there during the 2012-13 year transferred to the hospital operation, officials said.
Other employees of the former center retired, quit, or — in the case of some clerical staff — moved into other university jobs, Mr. Kielmeyer said.
The hospital employs 32 full-time and part-time staff to run the new center, including seven primary care providers such as physicians and nurse practitioners and three mental health providers.
BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey said the university didn’t have the funds to build a new health center, one reason the hospital partnership made sense. She said the university will start developing campus programs that tie into the health-center operation.
Among the offerings at the health center are radiology and lab services, blood draws, immunizations, and nutrition counseling.
Mr. Korducki said technology such as electronic medical records will improve coordination between the health center and hospital.
BGSU budgeted $4.15 million to operate the center in 2012-2013, including about $1.6 million funded with student fees. Those fees will now be used to pay debt for renovation of the student recreation center, now under way. The rest of the university’s health center budget was covered by insurance reimbursements and fees paid for services.
Last school year, a total of 13,567 student visits were made to the health center.
Falcon Health Center opened to patients Monday.