Monday, February 04, 2002

Hospital to change with times


By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Middletown Regional Hospital President Douglas McNeill, 52, is leading the hospital's push to rebuild in Turtlecreek Township, where officials may be near agreement to let Middletown annex the needed property.

        Mr. McNeill, who has run the facility since 1992, recently discussed the effort with The Enquirer.

        QUESTION: What's the plan?

ANSWER: What we're talking about is more than just a hospital; it's developing a health and technology campus with traditional partners like physicians and non-traditional ones like educators (and high-tech industry). We're going to be working with local school systems, colleges and universities and vocational schools in a number of counties that surround us (to train health care professionals). We're seeing a lot of the talent leave not just the area but the state.

        Q: How does it benefit the hospital to partner with industry?

A: We're going to have access to new regimens and drugs and therapies earlier. ... We also believe this is a great new economic platform for the whole region.

        Q: That seems a little beyond the purpose of a hospital.

A: We see the opportunity. The world is changing.

        Q: Some politicians have suggested you build at the Ohio 122 exit instead of on Greentree Road, which you say will require a new interchange. Why not 122?

A: It has topographical problems. We can't get our partners in the proximity and location we want there ... 122 isn't a full interchange. It's already congested. ... Greentree is flat and relatively dry, and we've got 300 acres there.

        Q: What's your time line?

A: We've looked at this spring as being a crucial time for us. We're going to be very interested in what the traffic and engineering studies (due this month ) show. Construction will take roughly 2 1/2 years and we want to be there by 2006, so it'll need to start by the end of 2003.”

        Q: Have you met with the Turtlecreek Township residents who are fighting the move?

A: It was set, but they've called back and declined. ... I understand their apprehensions, but I think we can respond to them. We're in a residential neighborhood now.

        Q: You've said the campus would create thousands of jobs, but residents say they don't need jobs.

A: I think they're presumptuous to speak for the region. I think the region does need a strong underlying economic base, and these are good jobs.

        Q: Why do we need more jobs when Warren already has a labor shortage?

A: If you think any entity can rest on its laurels and the world is not going to change, you're a fool. You've got to stay relevant.


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