Area reaps gains from medical building boom

8:00 p.m Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016 Local News
Construction continues on the Christ Hospital Medical Center, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. The Butler County area, as well as parts of Warren County, have been a hotbed of hospital and health-care related construction in recent years with at least five major projects planned or recently completed. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

The Butler County area, as well as parts of Warren County, have been a hotbed of hospital and health-care related construction recently with at least four major projects planned or nearing completion and generating growth for a local economy continuing to fight back from the Great Recession.

Experts say the area is a prime market for building new facilities and expanding health care services because of its aging infrastructure and population, which is expected to see unprecedented growth over the next decade with those 65-and-older accounting for 22 percent of the state’s population by 2030, according to a recent report from Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center.

Keeping up with demand has led to steady construction of new patient towers, cancer centers, and emergency departments across this region.

Nationwide, there are at least 1,340 projects underway or in the planning stage valued at $97 billion, according to a recent report from Revista, a Maryland-based health care real estate research firm.

Locally, hospital construction has been booming for several years as major hospital networks continue to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into projects directly benefiting architects, construction firms, suppliers and others.

Here are some of the local projects:

The Christ Hospital Medical Center

The Christ Hospital Medical Center in Liberty Twp., a new 125,000-square-foot structure slated to open in in the winter of 2017-2018. Facilities will include a freestanding emergency room and helicopter landing pad, extended stay patient rooms and surgical, physical therapy, cardiology, radiology, urology and other services on about 17 acres off Cox Road and highly visible from Interstate 75, as well as its ramp to Ohio 129.

Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital

Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital’s surgical renovation project is estimated to cost $14 million and will expand inpatient and outpatient operating rooms to better accommodate the latest technology and enhance the physician and patient/family experience. It also will enlarge spine intervention (pain) center to improve patient access to this growing service, redesign the driveway and entrance to the Mercy Ambulatory Surgery Center to improve patients’ ease of access to the building and co-locate inpatient and outpatient endoscopy for efficiency and an improved patient experience. The 36,300-square-foot interior renovation and 3,000-square-foot expansion is set to be completed by fall 2017.

Atrium Medical Center

Premier Health announced in September for Atrium Medical Center in Middletown to open the Natural Beginnings Birth Center, an approximately $1.4 million project including the cost of renovations for new home-like suites and new equipment. Construction is underway on renovations to an existing 7,200-square-feet of space at Atrium’s Family Birth Center. Renovations are expected to be finished in spring 2017. Natural birth deliveries will begin before that in December.

Plans were also announced in October for Atrium to open a geriatric-friendly unit within the hospital’s existing Emergency Trauma Center. The project is being funded by donors to Atrium Medical Center Foundation, which has a goal to raise approximately $500,000 for the costs of renovations of about 2,728-square-feet. The new unit is planned to start and complete construction in 2017.

An expansion was completed in 2016 of the Clinical Neuroscience Institute’s office suite at Atrium Medical Center’s Professional Building; the location underwent an expansion to become a 1,200-square-foot office including seven exam rooms and a remodeled reception area. Renovations cost about $352,798.

Atrium Medical Center added a wound care center at the Middletown facility in 2015. Premier Health also opened an $11.5 million medical facility in Mason in 2015, one that includes a 24-hour emergency center, physician offices and medical spa.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Liberty Campus

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Liberty Campus in August completed its $120 million Proton Therapy Center next to Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus in Liberty Twp.

Cincinnati Children’s also spent $50 million to build a new, 70,000-square-foot patient floor and make other renovations to the now four-story Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus in 2015.

Bethesda Butler

TriHealth expanded by 51,000-square-feet its Bethesda Butler campus, growing from 10 patient beds to 46 beds during multiple phases of construction and completed earlier this year. TriHealth contracted with Miller-Valentine Group earlier this year to purchase 33 acres at 8000 Liberty Way and develop a massive new ambulatory care center there.

Kettering Health

Kettering Health opened in February 2015 a freestanding emergency department in Franklin. It’s the same hospital group that owns Fort Hamilton Hospital. Fort Hamilton Hospital celebrated in May 2015 the opening of its Liberty Point Wound Care Center at 7117 Dutchland Parkway in Liberty Twp.

West Chester Hospital

UC Health opened at its West Chester Hospital in April 2015 a new $10 million maternity unit. It also added in 2015 a new primary care office in Liberty Twp. on Princeton-Glendale Road.

Chris Hopper, vice president and account manager at Cincinnati-based Shanska USA Building Inc., said hospital construction has accounted for more than one-third of the $1.1 billion in revenues the company has generated in southwest Ohio since opening for business here 12 years ago.

And Premier Health has been one of its most lucrative clients.

“They’ve been an amazing client and account for a large portion of our portfolio,” Hopper said, noting that Premier projects have generated more than $400 million of the $600 million in health care construction work the company has done in southwest Ohio.

Business has been so good that the New Jersey-based firm opened a permanent office in Cincinnati about five years ago.

“We didn’t have an office in southwest Ohio before that, and we’ve grown exponentially since that time,” Hopper said. “We’re a national company that does all sorts of construction. Other industries can be up and down, but health care has remained steady for us.”

Randall Fox, executive director of the Dayton branch of the Associated General Contractors of Ohio trade association, which includes parts of Butler and Warren counties, said that overall, health care construction accounts for about 20 percent of revenues for its 75 local members.

“That’s a pretty significant share,” Fox said. “Health care is extremely important and vital for our industry.”

Hospital officials say new state-of-the-art facilities will help them fulfill their mission of providing high-level care closer to home.

“Our decision to construct new facilities is made with careful thought and research of community need,” said Fred Manchur, Kettering Health’s CEO. “We want residents in our 16-county service area to have better and faster access to quality health care. We consider many factors including population growth and shifts, and increases in health issues in a particular community.”

The new facilities have the added benefit of attracting top-notch doctors and specialists, who in turn will bring more health-care dollars to the community and keep more health-care dollars here, according to Craig Self, Premier’s chief strategy officer.

“We’ve been able to recruit 10 neurologists to the Premier Health system in the past nine months,” Self said. “They have a lot of choices. They can go to places where there are beaches and mountains, but they come here because of the new facilities and investment.”

Over the past three years alone, Premier spent approximately $150 million on construction, while Kettering spent more than $50 million in the past five years.

The investment in new facilities has been a boon for overall employment in the area as well. The number of residents in the region employed in health care and social assistance has grown at more than twice the rate of job growth in the overall economy, according to data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Nationally, health care occupations and industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and add the most jobs to the economy between now and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which projects the sectors to add 2.3 million in employment, representing about one in four new jobs.

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