Developing a full-service emergency room near Rt. 33 and Diley Road could be the first step toward a hospital in northern Fairfield County.
Mount Carmel Health System and Fairfield Medical Center are spending $35 million on the 24-hour emergency-care center and a medical office building. Construction started yesterday and officials hope to open the buildings next fall.
"There has been a geographic gap in health care," said Brett Justice, a vice president at Mount Carmel. "The location is ideal for meeting the health-care needs of the residents of northwest Fairfield County."
The emergency room will serve an area with an estimated 90,000 residents.
Canal Winchester residents now travel miles to Mount Carmel East hospital and occasionally are diverted elsewhere because that emergency room is crowded, said Canal Winchester Mayor Mike Ebert.
"This is going to be real convenient for that type of situation," Ebert said. "We could have used something like this 15 years ago."
The project reminds Pickerington City Manager Tim Hansley of the development of Dublin Methodist Hospital. Hansley served for years as Dublin's city manager.
OhioHealth first built an urgent-care center in Dublin during the late 1980s. Dublin Methodist Hospital opened in January.
In Canal Winchester, the 35,000-square-foot center is to be a full-service emergency room, not an urgent-care facility, Justice said. The Daimler Group is developing the 50,000-square-foot medical office building complex.
The emergency room would open with 40 to 50 employees.
There is plenty of room to grow, as Mount Carmel and Fairfield Medical control 55 acres off Diley Road.
Officials from both, however, are cautious about saying when a hospital will be built. The next phases could include more medical offices and an outpatient surgery center.
"We will add services as the community needs it," Justice said.
The area should start to reap benefits beyond improving residents' health. Pickerington and Canal Winchester are making sure nearby land is ready for development.
Pickerington is in the middle of a project to widen Diley Road to five lanes between Rts. 256 and 33. The project costs $18 million, with the Ohio Department of Transportation contributing $11 million.
Canal Winchester created a tax increment financing district that would use property taxes collected during the next 30 years near Diley Road and Rt. 33 to pay for roads and sewers. The hospital would be tax-exempt but the medical office buildings would generate taxes, said Chris Strayer, Canal Winchester's development director.