$50M medical complex proposed for Nicholasville, Ky.

42-acre site would include care center and medical office building

May 1--NICHOLASVILLE -- A developer wants to build a $50 million medical complex in south Nicholasville, and has received offers of support from University of Kentucky Healthcare and Danville-based Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center.

The 42-acre site off U.S. 27 would have an ambulatory care center and a medical office building. Eventually it might also include an assisted living center and even a helipad for an air ambulance, said property owner Dallas Murphy of Lexington.

In addition, Royal Manor Healthcare Facility, an 83-bed Nicholasville nursing home, has expressed interest in relocating from Sparks Avenue to the Murphy property, according to a letter from the home's administrator.

The project would continue Jessamine County's rapid growth in medical facilities -- though none is the full-service hospital county residents have sought.

Murphy's land is near the Memorial Sports Complex, a privately financed ballpark that draws thousands of youth baseball players and parents from all over the country to Nicholasville each year. The city annexed the property in 2005.

Murphy is not new to the effort to bring more medical services to Nicholasville. He supported Associated Healthcare Systems of Brentwood, Tenn., the former parent company of Samaritan Hospital in Lexington, when it received state approval in 2006 to put an ambulatory care center in Nicholasville.

But Associated Healthcare Systems filed for bankruptcy last fall. So, with approval from a Tennessee bankruptcy court, Murphy purchased the entity called Associated Healthcare Systems of Jessamine County LLC.

In January, Murphy's company, Memorial Sports LLC, became the sole member of Associated. Murphy is the sole owner of Memorial Sports LLC, which owns the land where the ambulatory care center will be.

In interviews this week, Murphy wouldn't say who was interested in affiliating with the south Nicholasville complex. But records submitted to the state include a letter of intent in which UK Healthcare expresses interest in providing doctors and consulting expertise for magnetic resonance imaging services. The state Cabinet for Health and Family Services approved a certificate of need for an MRI for the south Nicholasville site in mid-April.

Sergio Melgar, senior vice president for health affairs, said UK is "interested in making our physicians available" to the $9 million ambulatory care center -- a medical facility smaller than a hospital but larger than a clinic.

Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center also signed the letter of intent to provide administrative services, such as billing, for the ambulatory care center. A spokeswoman for the Danville facility could not be reached for comment.

Royal Manor administrator Sam Frazier wrote a March 5 letter expressing his support for the MRI application. That nursing home now takes patients to Lexington for MRI services, but Associated's plan "would allow our residents to stay in the community," he wrote.

Frazier also wrote: "Currently, we are looking to build a new facility, which would include skilled nursing and assisted living units, adjacent to (Associated's) medical plaza."

In a transcript of a March 13 hearing on the MRI certificate of need, Murphy said he is in negotiations with the nursing home to move to "within 300 feet of this MRI and ambulatory care center."

The $2 million MRI facility would be in a 16,000-square-foot ambulatory care center that would offer gynecological, orthopedic and other specialty services. The two-story medical office building would have 60,000 square feet.

Of the top 25 most populous counties in Kentucky, Jessamine is the only one that does not have an MRI, according to the Kentucky State Data Center and Kentucky Inventory of Healthcare Facilities.

"If all goes as planned, we will have an air ambulance stationed at this location," Murphy said. "We're not going to call them; they're going to be here."

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