Saturday, August 23, 2003

Norwood as 'medical mecca'

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NORWOOD - If a proposed heart hospital actually gets built in Norwood, it would add to what officials already call a "medical mecca" that has been developing there in recent years.

The Ohio Heart Health Center and Deaconess Associations Inc. announced plans this week to build a 60-bed heart hospital that would create about 250 jobs. One of two sites under consideration for the $50 million to $60 million facility would be part of a 22-acre parcel just northeast of the Montgomery Road crossing over the Norwood Lateral.

If the project goes according to plan, it would be open by early 2005. But many steps must occur first, including a series of public meetings and hearings in Norwood.

"It's not a done deal, but there's a great deal of interest in pursuing this," said Rick Dettmer, development director for the city of Norwood.

Just a few blocks away, on the southwest side of Montgomery Road and the Lateral, more than 20 health-related businesses have concentrated their services in several neighboring office and retail centers. Among them: three kidney dialysis centers, a urology center, physical therapy services, and offices for home health, hospice and medical staffing agencies.

Medpace Inc., a medical research company that occupies a glassy building overlooking the Lateral, soon will be moving less than a block into a 90,000-square-foot building under construction at the former site of a Contractor's Warehouse store.

"Norwood is gradually becoming a medical mecca," said Will DeLuca, a City Council member and chairman of the council's economic development committee. "The heart hospital would complement all that."

Although Norwood isn't the only site under consideration - the other site was not identified - its proximity to I-75 and I-71 makes it a good location to draw patients from throughout the region, said Mark McDonald, chief operating officer for the Ohio Heart Health Center.

Norwood officials are waiting for developers to submit an updated plan.


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