By Tim Bonfield
Enquirer staff writer
LEBANON - The TriHealth hospital group will break ground today on a $31 million project to significantly expand medical services in Warren County.
The project calls for replacing the Bethesda Warren County medical building with a five-times-bigger center about a mile away on a 34-acre site in Lebanon along Ohio 48 near Interstate 71's Exit 28.
Beyond the 24-hour emergency care provided at the old center at 1618 Deerfield Road, the new one would add several medical specialist offices and several types of diagnostic services.
Plans call for opening the new center in winter 2006.
The expanded center would add about 70 employees, to 130, when complete, and generate an additional $40,000 a year in city income taxes for Lebanon.
The new building will be about 90,000 square feet, compared to 20,000 square feet now.
New services will include an expanded emergency department, a pharmacy, CT and MRI scanners, and several other diagnostic tools for cardiac care.
It will feature space for more than a dozen new doctors providing primary care, orthopedics, cardiology, obstetrics and gynecology, gastroenterology and facial surgery.
"This will be the largest collection of physicians in one location in the county," said John Prout, TriHealth president and chief executive. "With the expanded diagnostic and treatment abilities at that location, we believe that many more people can be treated there without having to make other trips into the city."
The project also leaves plenty of room to add services as Warren County's population grows. The market does not support a full-blown hospital, but one could be built if demand grows, Prout said.
In several ways, the Bethesda Warren County project is similar to the UC Physicians' medical campus in Butler County, but less developed.
The University Pointe campus already has a large medical building with expanded diagnostic services and a nearly completed short-stay surgical hospital with plans to build more.
The projects are far enough away from each other that they don't directly compete, Prout said. But they share a new approach to medical development.
Years ago, organizations built hospitals, then added attached or nearby medical offices. Now, they are building the medical offices first, then considering whether to build hospitals.
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