Wednesday, January 16, 2002

New use possible for Mercy Hamilton

$300,000 in federal funds assured for conversion of former hospital

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, has secured $300,000 in federal dollars to help convert a closed hospital into a community facility, his office said Tuesday.

        Today, Mr. DeWine and community leaders will tour the former Mercy Hospital Hamilton and will discuss ideas for putting the structure to use.

        The secured funds fall far short of the $2 million to $3 million local officials had sought with the aid of Sen. George Voinovich, U.S. Rep. John Boehner, R-West Chester, and state Rep. Greg Jolivette, R-Hamilton.

        But Thomas S. Urban, former administrator of the hospital, and a senior vice president with Mercy Health Partners, isn't discouraged. “Even though the amount was smaller than what was requested, it still is a significant amount of money,” he said.

        Mr. Urban, who plans to join Mr. DeWine's tour today, said a center to house elderly people needing medical care is one option for the 108-year-old building's re-use. Private developers have also expressed interest in the structure, he said, “but nothing has clicked yet.”

        The hospital, which accepted its last patients in April, has continued to house the Butler County morgue. The building's owner, Mercy Health Partners, has said the morgue could remain there until June. Plans for the morgue's relocation are still in the works.

        The hospital, which employed more than 600 people, closed because it was expected to lose $39 million over the next three years.

        Former Mercy Hamilton patients are being directed to Fort Hamilton Hospital and Mercy Hospital Fairfield.


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