Mercy Health System is expanding and plans to build a free-standing emergency room in Sylvania Township — its first facility in western Lucas County and one that would compete with a ProMedica hospital four miles away.
Hospital officials will announce plans today for a new 12-bed E.R. at the corner of Central Avenue and King Road that is similar to the emergency room the hospital system opened eight months ago in Perrysburg at 12621 Eckel Junction Rd.
Mercy purchased the former Central Elementary School building at the intersection for $2.25 million late last year and received zoning approval from Sylvania Township last week to move forward with the project, said Imran Andrabi, chief operating officer and president of Mercy.
“We think this is going to be positive. It is at the crossroads of where a lot of activity is happening. We have physicians in this area but have not had a huge presence. We hope to have a lot of roots on the west side of town in Sylvania,” Dr. Andrabi said.
The total cost for the proposed 18,000-square-foot facility is $14.3 million. In addition to the 12 examination rooms, it will have a laboratory and imaging center.
Crews are in the process of demolishing the former school building. The groundbreaking for the new facility is expected to occur this fall, and the new building could be up and running a year later, in the fall of 2015.
It will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which distinguishes it from urgent-care facilities that often cannot treat patients with serious injuries and can have limited hours of operation, Dr. Andrabi said.
Mercy plans to add 30 to 40 jobs to staff the emergency room. Four doctors will be hired immediately and then will transition to the new facility after it opens next year, said Dr. Chris Goliver, medical director for the Mercy facility in Sylvania and the Perrysburg E.R.
“The nurses will be added as we get closer to actual opening,” Dr. Goliver said. The health system also plans to hire radiologists and laboratory technicians.
Dr. Andrabi said the location of the facility will help Mercy reach and treat patients from areas west of Sylvania Township, including Swanton, Metamora, and Fayette. He said depending on their location, it could take some people in those communities up to 24 minutes to reach an E.R.
This new hospital facility, however, will compete directly with Mercy’s competitor, ProMedica, which operates an E.R. at Flower Hospital, he said.
“There is no doubt that Flower has an E.R., and it has served Sylvania. We think the utilization is different. The geography when you look at where Flower is located is different. Flower doesn’t pull from those communities, when you go to Springfield Township, Fayette, and Berkey, so when we looked at this we thought this was the best,” Dr. Andrabi said.
ProMedica also operates St. Luke’s Hospital, which draws patients from some western suburbs including Maumee and Monclova Township.
Western Lucas County is one of the few areas that has a high concentration of consumers with private or employer-based health insurance. According to federal government documents, two-thirds of Lucas County residents are on government health plans, either Medicare, which is primarily for senior citizens, or Medicaid, which insures those below the poverty line or on disability.
“Payor mix was not a factor in our decision to build the new E.R. and diagnostic center. For Mercy, it is about our clear direction of changing the care model and how people access services where they live and work,” Mercy officials said.
Mercy has been operating a standalone E.R. in Perrysburg for several months, and officials said it was the success of that site that prompted the move to create a second suburban care center.
“We are seeing about 28 to 29 patients per day. It is doing better than expected given that we are new to the area. There is a bit of a learning curve for people getting to understand what the facility can offer,” Dr. Goliver said. At the one-year mark, the hospital center expects to have seen about 11,000 patients.
When the Perrysburg E.R. opened, Mercy officials originally said it was expected to treat up to 20,000 patients a year, but those projections were “in context of our five-year projection for facility maturity,” Dr. Goliver said.
Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at email@example.com or 419-724-6091.