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Published: Monday, 7/7/2008

Hospital prepares to relocate

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Rich Dusseau, left, and Mike Gilbert, both of Toledo, install monitors and lights in one of the operating rooms. Rich Dusseau, left, and Mike Gilbert, both of Toledo, install monitors and lights in one of the operating rooms.
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TIFFIN - From its landlocked six-acre site on West Market Street to a wooded, 134-acre campus on the city's southwest side, Mercy Hospital of Tiffin is preparing to move after 95 years in the same location.

Its new three-story, brick home along U.S. 224 - a $65.4 million project - is nearly complete. The hospital is to be open to the public for tours from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, and patients are scheduled to move in July 27.

"It's laid out to be very patient-friendly so when people come to the hospital, they don't have to go far to get the services they need," said Dale Thornton, president and chief executive officer of Mercy Tiffin.

As Bernie Steinmetz, director of development and public relations, pointed out, when you have a hospital built in 1912 with several additions constructed over the years, offices and departments tend to get scattered from one end of the hospital to the other.

The new 193,000-square-foot hospital - decorated in earthy sage greens and golds, cherry wood, and patterned floors that simulate hardwood and stone - is designed to make sense to staff and patients.

The women's center is adjacent to radiology. The emergency department has separate entrances for ambulances and walk-in patients. Even its distinctive, mustard-colored chapel has a second-floor balcony that will enable patients preparing for surgery to stop in without having to go to the first floor.

Area officials are thrilled with the investment Mercy Tiffin is making in Seneca County. Throughout the two-year building project, some $10 million of the $49.5 million in construction work went to local contractors, said Charles Ervin, director of facility and support operations for the hospital.

Mercy Hospital of Tiffin s new 193,000-square-foot facility is designed to make sense for both staff and patients. Mercy Hospital of Tiffin s new 193,000-square-foot facility is designed to make sense for both staff and patients.
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Dave Sauber, president of the board of county commissioners, called the new hospital "awesome."

"If you want to talk about a true economic stimulant for the county, that is the one thing that's going to create more jobs, more traffic, and more business in Seneca County," Mr. Sauber said.

Not far from the health campus, a new Lowe's store is under construction - a project Mr. Sauber attributes directly to the new hospital.

And Mr. Thornton expects to see the hospital grow its own business too. Tiffin Mercy is hoping to attract more specialists who make it possible for patients who currently travel to Toledo for surgery to have the procedures done locally.

Plans for the new hospital have been in the works almost since Mr. Thornton arrived at Mercy Tiffin in late 2003. Community meetings were held, studies done, and the decision made to move ahead with a new facility.

Mr. Thornton said the hospital decided it was time to modernize to remain competitive and efficient, to attract new physicians, and to improve patient privacy. The old hospital had small, semiprivate rooms.

"If we got complaints, it wasn't about the nursing care or the quality of physicians, it was the noise, the disruptions," he said.

All of the patient rooms in the new hospital are designed for one person and include a spacious, private bathroom, a flat-screen television, Internet access, a private safe for valuables, and a sleeper sofa. Patients will have room service where they order from a menu rather than getting standard meal deliveries.

The idea is to promote comfort and healing, but also to give patients some sense of control while they're at the hospital.

While much of the project was financed through bonds issued by the hospital's parent company, Catholic Healthcare Partners, it also raised $5.2 million in private donations, Mr. Steinmetz said.

As for the fate of the old hospital, Mr. Thornton said it's on the market and the hospital would love to sell it. If it is not sold by December, though, "My pledge to the community is, we will tear it down," he said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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