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Published: Saturday, 2/16/2002

Building projects alter northwest Ohio's medical landscape

BY LUKE SHOCKMAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Initial volume at Bay Park Community Hospital, which opened in November of 2000, is higher than expected, ProMedica Health System officials say. The Oregon facility, which has 70 beds, cost $52 million to build. Initial volume at Bay Park Community Hospital, which opened in November of 2000, is higher than expected, ProMedica Health System officials say. The Oregon facility, which has 70 beds, cost $52 million to build.
SIMMONS / BLADE Enlarge

One group of Toledoans is pretty happy with what's going on in the Toledo healthcare market: Construction workers.

Area hospitals continued their building boom last year, ranging from projects such as a new Toledo Hospital to smaller renovations elsewhere. And the boom looks to continue this year.

The biggest hospital news, and likely to be for some time, is the announcement by ProMedica Health System that it's rebuilding the Toledo Hospital. The project will cost at least $200 million and means jobs for an estimated 1,600 construction workers. The new hospital will need an additional 400 employees by the time it's completed in 2005 or 2006.

Last year also saw the opening of ProMedica's hospital in Oregon. Bay Park Community Hospital, a 70-bed hospital costing $52 million to build, opened in November. While critics said the hospital isn't necessary because it is just south of St. Charles Mercy Hospital, ProMedica officials say initial volume is higher than expected.

ProMedica is also building a 62-bed replacement hospital in Defiance that will open later this year. The hospital is one of several ProMedica owns, and Randy Oostra, vice president of strategic business development, said more hospitals could join ProMedica.

“We're currently talking to several hospitals, and we would hope that someone would join us this year,” said Mr. Oostra.

He declined to be more specific or identify which areas ProMedica is looking at expanding into.

Other notable projects for ProMedica this year include an addition of a pulmonary rehabilitation facility at Flower Hospital, a $5 million renovation of ProMedica's hospital campus in Fostoria, and renovation of emergency departments at Toledo Hospital and Flower Hospital.

Mercy Health Partners isn't standing still when it comes to construction projects. Its St. Anne Mercy Hospital will open this August. The 70-bed hospital, expected to cost $53 million, is on Sylvania Avenue, between Secor Road and Monroe Street, in West Toledo. Mercy will close its Riverside Mercy Hospital shortly before St. Anne Mercy Hospital opens. Mercy will maintain some primary care services at Riverside and is considering other uses for the building.

Mercy also will continue ventures with area physicians. One of Mercy officials' prouder accomplishments was the opening last year of a physician-owned heart catheter lab on the campus of St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. Another cath lab will open this year at St. Charles Mercy Hospital in Oregon. More ventures similar to that are planned for this year, said Scott Shook, senior vice president of strategic initiatives for Mercy.

“We'll focus a lot of partnerships with our doctors,” he said.

The ventures could be located on Mercy hospital campuses, or be built in free-standing buildings in the Toledo area or include mobile outpatient services, he said.

Mercy is pleased with the growth in its medical transport system. Its Life Flight medical helicopter service had a record 2,200 flights last year.

Building boom and new programs aside, local health system executives said this year will continue to be a challenging financially.

“You'll probably get the same list from all of us,” said Mr. Oostra, the ProMedica vice president. “Medicare reimbursement is always an issue. We face expenses that are continuing to rise, and our revenues are fairly flat.”

Increasing drug costs are putting a strain on hospitals. And Mr. Oostra said health care workers continue to be in short supply, which drives up labor costs because hospitals must pay more to find and keep workers.

Mr. Shook said Mercy is facing the same challenges.



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