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nears on cancer center
|By TIMOTHY COX
The Daily Standard
COLDWATER - The five regional hospitals partnering to build the Grand
Lake Cancer Center in Celina are approving changes to the building design just a little
more than a week before breaking ground on the project.
Mercer County Community Hospital board of governors members approved
the changes at Wednesday's meeting, bumping the price of the oncology unit from an
original estimate of $5.8 million to a new price of $6.8 million. The hospitals that make
up the West Central Ohio Regional Healthcare Alliance are collaborating on the project.
Changes to the floor plan were necessary, Community Hospital Chief
Executive Officer Jim Isaacs said, because officials are trying to lure an oncologist,
possibly two, to practice there. Officials hope the center can offer radiation and
chemotherapy treatment at the site.
One of the oncologists the hospitals are trying to strike a deal with
has requested about 3,000 square feet of additional space, Isaacs said. Additionally,
alliance officials have decided to possibly add a second office - also about 3,000 square
feet. Each individual hospital in Coldwater, St. Marys, Van Wert, Lima and Bellefontaine
must sign off on the additions.
The new additions would bring the total space at the center to about
24,000 square feet and a total price of about $6.8 million. The oncology center is to be
built on 5.75 acres on the east side of Celina between Havemann Road and Pro Drive.
Community Hospital board members became the first of the group to
approve the new plan Wednesday.
Alliance officials have set a ceremonial groundbreaking for noon Nov.
1. Officials and board members from all of the participating hospitals are expected to
Before granting their unanimous approval to the expanded plans, board
members asked a number of questions. They wanted to know if a second office suite could
easily be filled and how much it would cost to add new office space later, after the
original project is finished.
Isaacs told them construction costs could be as much as 50 percent
higher to add on to the finished facility at a later date.
Board member Francis Pax said that was reason enough to take the
financial hit now. Even if the space went unfilled, board members noted the center still
would be profitable based on early market projections.
Filling the extra space should not be a problem, board member Dr. Tom
"It's an incredibly competitive market," Schwieterman said.
"There can't be too much space here."
Board members also learned that alliance officials continue to pursue
federal assistance to build the center. Congressional leaders are expected
to decide within the next month or so whether $3 million will be appropriated to help
build the center. If approved, the federal money would reduce the financial commitment of
each participating hospital by about $600,000 each.
Isaacs reiterated that officials have said they will proceed with the
project whether the federal aid comes through or not.
In other news regarding the cancer center, Isaacs reported the hospital
had received a favorable legal opinion about participation in a future oncology site.
Since the outset of planning for the Celina center, officials have said
they hope to someday expand the Cancer Network of West Central Ohio to a second site,
likely near Bellefontaine. All the hospitals would share equally in the profits and
expenses as they plan to do with the Celina location.
Lawyers at Bricker & Eckler researched the issue and ruled
that the local hospital can participate if the project expands to Bellefontaine, Isaacs
said. Those plans could be in place within a matter of months, he said.
Hospital officials did not release the full text of the legal opinion,
citing attorney-client privilege.
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