Atrium Medical Center in Middletown. Since the hospital’s opening 10 years ago, it has continued to spur development in area surrounding the Interstate 75 interchange. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Atrium Medical Center’s first decade characterized by growth

Development of an expanding medical campus at I-75 and Ohio 122 was jumpstarted by the Atrium Medical Center. The decision to move from the landlocked hospital on McKnight Drive was a necessity, according to Michael Uhl, president of the full-service Warren County hospital and Level III Trauma Center.

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“The hospital was landlocked, so that limited the ability to expand,” he said. “It also means that it would have limited our ability to expand services and, obviously … it’s location did not create the footprint that allowed … broad access for the region. Moving out to the highway was kind of the win-win. You have more acreage for expansion of the building, which allows you to offer more services and, being right off the highway, it provided greater access for the region.”

Middletown Hospital, which opened in 1917, became Middletown Regional Hospital in 1983 to reflect the hospital’s expanding service area including Ohio’s Butler, Warren, Preble and Montgomery counties. In 2005, it joined Dayton-based Premier Health and opened Atrium Medical Center Dec. 9, 2007, on a new, approximately 190-acre campus in Warren County.

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With more than 1,500 people in full-time, part-time and on-call positions, Atrium is Middletown’s second largest employer and is among the largest employers in Warren and Butler counties.

Since the decade-ago debut of the health network’s southernmost presence, service expansion has been a ongoing effort.

An open heart surgery unit program opened at Atrium in 2008, followed by the ability to perform robotic surgeries and, in 2015, by the Wound Care Center.

Natural Beginnings Birthing Program launched in 2016 followed by the hospital’s Natural Beginnings Birth Center earlier this year, followed by a Senior Emergency Center.

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Over the decade, the hospital also has been able to expand other procedures in the cardiac arena, including the Watchman Procedure, which helps patients’ chronic atrial fibrillation.

Being in the area just off I-75 has spurred other health care partners from the south to move to the area, Uhl said.

“Because of our location … they’ve actually chosen us as their preferred partner to work with in the northern region,” he said.

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Cincinnati Eye Institute, Uhl said, is a perfect example of that because it built an office on Atrium’s campus and opened its northern eye surgery center there in September.

“With our position and our accessibility right off the highway and our visibility from the interchange … it made us a very attractive site for them,” he said.

Atrium Medical Center’s next decade will see it working on differentiating its services in the market and ensuring it assesses community need and provides the right services close to home so area residents don’t have to travel outside of the region, Uhl said.

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“We’re going to continue to look for ways to advance in many areas, how we’re going to advance in cardiology, how we’re going to advance in orthopedics are just a few examples,” he said. “We’re (also) looking at expanding our portfolio of robotic surgery.”

Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins said city officials saw the Atrium Medical Center project as a catalyst project that opened up the area east of Interstate 75 for future development.

“What was once just woods and crops now had potential to be so much more,” Adkins said. “Atrium, through its campus activities, has realized that potential and the city benefits from great services, good paying jobs, and quality health care being provided in an otherwise underutilized area of the city.”

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The addition of the newly expanded Cincinnati Eye Institute, Greentree Health Science Academy, Atrium Family YMCA, the BP gas station any many other businesses would not have been possible without the move by the hospital to the East End, he said.

“Aside from their direct contribution in jobs and health care services, Atrium Medical Center and Premier Health have been critical community partners, responding as a team to add needed community services through the Women’s Care Center, the Senior Emergency Center, the Family Birthing Center and the walking path around the Atrium Campus,” Adkins said. “We partner with the hospital on the electronic billboard at the highway, through various community events throughout the year, and the hospital has been our co-sponsor for 11 Heroin Summits as the public safety community and the health care community work side by side on opiate addiction throughout the region.

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“The value of their generous donation of time, talent, and funding and the impact they have in the community cannot be overestimated.”

Premier Health’s decision to move east near to I-75 allowed Atrium Medical Center to grow and expand the health care system’s reach well beyond Middletown into new markets, according to Rick Pearce, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Serving Middletown, Monroe and Trenton.

“When they moved in 2007, the country was in the beginning stages of our most recent recession, so the developer at that time … never got an opportunity to truly develop the land around Atrium,” Pearce said. “I’m almost certain whatever was planned back then is long outdated, the country and economic environment has changed a great deal since then.”

As Atrium continues to identify and build strong strategic partnerships with key organizations, those relationships can only help and allow the surrounding communities to grow, he said.

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