Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Mercy Fairfield plans expansion

$54.6 million project will double size

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Mercy Hospital Fairfield will break ground Nov. 11 on a two-year, $54.6 million construction project that will double the size of the hospital and make it more of a regional medical center for Cincinnati's northwest suburbs.

The project will add more than 100,000 square feet for expanded emergency, surgical and diagnostic services; a "heart hospital" within the hospital; a new lobby, chapel, gift shop and cafeteria; and more office space for physicians.

Once complete in late 2004, the expansion is expected to create 100 full-time jobs with an additional payroll of $5 million a year. Mercy Fairfield currently employs more than 900 people.

"Mercy Fairfield has outgrown itself," said Thomas Urban, president and chief executive of Mercy Health Partners.

"When it was built, Mercy Fairfield was a satellite to Mercy Hamilton," he said. "This expansion project will transform Mercy into a regional medical center serving not only Fairfield and neighboring Butler County areas such as Hamilton and West Chester, but also the suburban communities in northern Hamilton County and Warren County."

Since 1996, Mercy Fairfield has added a maternity unit, nearly doubled its operating rooms, and added a variety of high-tech imaging equipment.

Then in December 2001, it launched Butler County's only open-heart surgery program.

The project will add a four-story tower on the northeast side of the hospital.

The second floor will be devoted to a "heart hospital" that will house two new operating rooms, cardiac catheterization services and an 18-room coronary intensive-care unit. The fourth floor will be left vacant for future development.

At nearly $55 million, the project is one of the largest developments in several years for Fairfield. In 1998, an expansion by Cincinnati Financial was valued at $57.1 million.

The hospital expansion will boost Mercy Fairfield to the city's third-largest employer behind Cincinnati Financial, which employs more than 3,000, and Ohio Casualty, which employs more than 1,000.

The project required no financial assistance from the city. The expansion will be financed primarily through bonds issued through Mercy's parent organization, Catholic Healthcare Partners, Mr. Urban said.

"We're very pleased with the announcement made by Mercy, particularly about the mini-heart hospital. We think that will certainly improve the quality of life for all of the citizens of Fairfield and for the surrounding communities," said Fairfield Mayor Erick Cook.

Mercy Hospital Fairfield opened in 1978. As the area grew, the hospital gradually took over many of the services previously offered at Mercy Hospital Hamilton, which closed last year. The Mercy system also includes hospitals in Anderson Township, Batavia, Westwood and Mount Airy. .

E-mail tbonfield@enquirer.com

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