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Wexner Medical Center considers adding spine and brain hospital

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The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has been approved to spend $2 million to hire consultants to plan renovations expected to take place after the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute and Critical Care Center is completed.
The OSU Board of Trustees made the approval during a meeting last Friday.
Plans are likely to include a new brain and spine hospital, said Larry Anstine, CEO of the Wexner Medical Center.
“We feel pretty strongly that that’s the right thing to do,” Anstine said. “(There is a) lot of growth in brain (and) spine, a lot of research opportunities, so we’re committed to that concept.”
The process of selecting consultants to plan for renovations is ongoing, Anstine said. Applicants have been interviewed, but the choice has not been finalized or announced.
“We’re very early in this process, it’s a planning process,” he said. “We don’t have all the answers right now, that’s why we’re involving the consultants.”
The $2 million is also intended for consultation on other issues, such as the modernization of Rhodes and Doan halls and updating existing programs, according to an OSU release.
The brain and spine hospital would be located inside The James, and Anstine said there would be “some construction involved with renovating current space to accommodate the new programs, but … not building new buildings.”
“Really, what we’re doing is a planning project to program the space … this is really trying to decide what programs best fit in existing buildings,” he said. “And so we believe that the majority of the brain and spine hospital would fit nicely in the current James Cancer Hospital. We need to confirm that through our planning processes.”
Alaina Martinez, a graduate research assistant and graduate student in biomedical sciences, said the Medical Center has directly benefited her.
“I think … a program, for instance, (like) mine, biomedical science, it’s only possible in a place where you have a large medical hospital, to have patients to do research with,” she said. “It’s not really possible at smaller institutions.”
According to the release, the brain and spine hospital would further translational research, which is converting academic findings into clinical results. Martinez said having a place where “the hospital and the research are together” helps, because translational research bridges the “divide between the basic research and the clinical research.”
“Basically, that’s what my program is about … going from bench to bedside,” she said. “So it’s just important to even have that proximity … to medical doctors who do both research and actually practice, and so they can easily teach us.”
Anstine also talked about how the new hospital would further the mission of the Medical Center, which includes translational research.
“We have a three-part mission of patient care, teaching and research,” he said. “And so with the brain and spine hospital we’ll be combining all three of those parts of our mission, really to advance the understanding of the brain, how the nervous system works, and to bring those new findings, then, to our patients.”
The drive for renovation is part of a 2006 Strategic Plan, according to the release. Anstine said this plan is “the road map of the future for the medical center.”
“We identify the programs that we want to focus our effort (on),” he said. “So we have been working towards fulfilling the vision of that strategic plan, and at the current time we’re working on new strategic plans as well.”
Sarah Tortorella, a second-year in management and industry exploration, said she thought expanding the Medical Center “could open up new doors for us as a university.”
“It benefits (students) in the sense that it gives Ohio State a good name,” she said. “Being students here, we’re associated with that very reputable Med Center.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 8, 2013

An earlier version of this story stated that the Wexner Medical Center had received $2 million. In fact, it has been approved to spend $2 million. The earlier version also stated that Larry Anstine is executive director of the Medical Center. In fact, he is the CEO.

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