Hospital Plans $16M Expansion in Monroe, Mich.

Mercy Memorial Hospital System in Monroe, Michigan opened a new Dundee, Michigan location a few months ago and is in the midst of a $40 million hospital expansion, which is approximately half completed. The main lobby area recently opened, completion of the emergency room is expected by next month, and a surgery addition should be finished by spring 2008. Separate plans for a more than $16 million ambulatory care building recently began as well. It will be located on 150 acres of land (mostly vacant), approximately a mile and a half from the hospital and 300 yards away from the old surgery center.

"The hospital system is working on a second building on our north campus, and it's an ambulatory care building of about 80,000 square feet on a new site," stated George Montgomery, vice president of facilities. "That building is going to house our expanded ambulatory surgery center and a diagnostic service for the hospital - outpatient testing, diagnostic services, x-ray, and so forth."

Mercy Memorial is the anchor tenant in the building and the hospital is leasing the site to developer, Milwaukee-based Hammes Company. Hammes, a medical office development company, will then lease part of the building back to the hospital. A third tenant in the building will be Great Lakes Dialysis Center, owned by Fresenius Medical Care (FMC). A small cafe will be included as well.

Final site plan approval with.Frenchtown Township is nearing completion, after which Hammes will finalize financing, hire a general contractor, and begin construction. The hospital has started moving dirt in order to begin establishing the site's grade.

The majority of the ambulatory care building will be one story with a 60,000 square foot footprint.

"We're building bigger operating rooms, but we're building fewer than we had before, and our focus is to move ambulatory type surgery," Montgomery added. "You move patients who have outpatient surgery away from the hospital into ambulatory settings, and that's what we're doing. Because we do a lot of ambulatory surgery, we're taking it away from the hospital. We currently have a two-suite surger) center on the same campus we're going to build on. We're basically going to move those two operating rooms and take two hospital operating rooms and expand them into this new building."

According to Montgomery Michigan requires the hospital to fulfill a certificate of need (CON); everything the hospital builds must be approved by the State, which does number counts to approve the number of operating rooms Mercy Memorial builds.

The site was originally developed to be a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) senior housing project. However, Montgomery explained, conditions of the housing market caused the hospital to delay the project. So, Mercy Memorial intends to focus on long-range hospital planning instead. A 15 to 20 year campus development plan will be carried out along with the Township.

Though it's a separate project from the hospital's $40 million expansion, the ambulatory care building does tie into the overall plan, Montgomery stated. "We're reducing the number of operating room's in our new addition.

We needed to replace them somewhere, and the Stewart Road project is how we're doing it."

Mercy Memorial Hospital is a 238-bed, full-service community hospital, which is part of the Mercy Memorial Health System that serves a population center of 140,000 people. With a medical staff that consists of approximately 130 professionals, Mercy Memorial offers a range of services, including a new birthing center, dialysis treatment, inpatient and outpatient mental health services, CAT scans and MRIs, cancer care, cardiac care, home health and hospice care, physical and occupational - therapy, outpatient surgery center, and other services.