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Published: Friday, 6/30/2006

Mercy Memorial Hospital to break ground for $33 million upgrade

MONROE Because it is losing business to hospitals in Toledo, Detroit, and Ann Arbor, the Mercy Memorial Hospital System will update its technologies and services with a three-year $33 million renovation project in an attempt to bring in more Monroe-area residents.

With this renovation we are trying to service the demands of people in the Monroe community that have been going to outlying hospitals for services, said Arlene Walsh, president of the Mercy Memorial Hospital board of trustees. We took a survey asking members of the community what they felt they needed, and we are trying to respond to those needs through this expansion.

The renovation to the Macomb Street campus kicks off July 12.

The hospital was required by the state to obtain a Certificate of Need for the renovation work.

We are a nonprofit organization and our funds belong to the citizens of our community, so it makes sense that we need this approval, said George Montgomery, vice president of operations and support services for the hospital.

In the last year, the hospital has designed its renovation, received the certificate, and obtained bond issues to fund it.

The Monroe County Hospital Financing Authority helped the hospital secure the bonds at interest rates that range from 5 percent for those that mature in 2007 to 5.5 percent for those maturing in 2020, according to county Administrator and Chief Financial Officer Charles Londo. He is also the chairman of the county hospital financing authority for the review of this project.

Ms. Walsh said they will soon be starting a capital fund campaign to pay off a portion of this bond debt.

The hospital s emergency department is one of the only parts of the hospital that has seen an increase in visitors over the past few years. Ms. Walsh mentioned lack of health-care coverage as a major factor in this increase.

Because of the number of people losing their health care [coverage] or not having health care has increased, many more people now use the emergency-room doctors as their primary doctors, she said.

In 1997, the emergency department was rebuilt to accommodate 25,000 visits per year, but over the past few years it has received about 40,000 visits annually.

A new emergency room to accommodate 60,000 visitors annually will be built at a cost of about $5.5 million. Construction is expected to be completed in about a year.

The hospital also will renovate its south wing technical and radiology center at a cost of about $3.7 million, with an expected completion date of October, 2007.

This center added a Brilliance 64 Slice CT Scanner last month, but it will also add a fixed-base 3.0T MRI system, a cardiac catheterization, a suite in which special procedures will be performed, a Mammotome Breast Biopsy system, iE33 and iU22 ultrasound systems, and a PACS filmless radiology system.

In 2005, the surgery department had 10,700 cases. A new department, costing about $6.5 million, will be built on the first floor that will allow for 13,000 cases a year.

It should be ready by January, 2008.

The hospital s patient-service division will get a two-story atrium and an expansion and centralization of its retail and registration functions. This hub will cost about $3.7 million, and parts of it should be completed by next June.

Mr. Montgomery, who is heading up the construction project, said the remainder of the costs come from various other necessary expenses, like building infrastructure and upgrading the electrical generator.

A carnival-themed celebration for the ground-breaking will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. July 12 in the main campus parking lot at 718 North Macomb St.

Benjamin Alexander-Bloch



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