Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Money sought to reuse hospital

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A group of public officials is launching a petition campaign to raise money for the renovation of the recently closed Mercy Hospital Hamilton.

        U.S. Sens. Mike DeWine and George Voinovich have agreed to ask Congress to allocate $2 million to $3 million for the renovation, state Rep. Greg Jolivette, R-Hamilton, said Tuesday.

        U.S. Rep. John Boehner, R-West Chester, also supports the funding request, Mr. Jolivette said.

[photo] Mercy Hospital Hamilton stopped accepting patients in April because of expected losses.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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        The federal money would be a key element in redeveloping the former hospital facility, which stopped accepting patients in mid-April. Renovation could cost $8 million to $12 million.

        The federal money would be funneled through the U.S. Department of Health's Health Resource Service Administration, which offers funding to redevelop closed hospitals.

        Butler County Commissioners Mike Fox and Chuck Furmon have committed $3 million in county money toward the redevelopment of the facility.

        “Petitions and letters would help them convince their colleagues that this is a worthwhile project,” Mr. Jolivette said.

        Mercy Health Partners Inc. , which owns the former hospital, will do everything possible to find an alternative use for the 108-year-old facility, said Tom Urban, senior vice president.

        “Even though we've closed the hospital, we're not abandoning Hamilton,” said Mr. Urban, who had been administrator of Mercy Hamilton. “It's hard for me to envision the building being torn down.”

        Ideally, other organizations offering health-related services would lease the facility, he said.

        Mercy Health Partners shut the hospital because it was expected to lose $39 million over the next three years. Closing the hospital, which employed 634, will burden Hamilton with a $400,000 drop in annual revenue.

        About half of the 459 employees permanently based there have been transferred to other Mercy facilities. Fort Hamilton Hospital and Mercy Hospital Fairfield have assumed most of the closed hospital's patients.


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