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Ohio State seeking to buy 31 acres of land for new ambulatory facility

Board of Trustees member Les Wexner (left) and University President Michael Drake (right) during the medical center’s Board meeting on April 4, 2018. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Editor-in-Chief

Ohio State is spreading its medical center reach, literally, with a new plan for an ambulatory care facility located on the southeast corner of State Route 161 and Hamilton Road.

The latest in a wave of new Wexner Medical Center construction and updates, this outpatient care facility will put the university’s medical footprint in a new area of Columbus. The university is seeking to spend an estimated $11 million to buy 31.6 acres of vacant land.

Funding for the land acquisition will come from the medical center funds.

The $11-million price tag is cheaper than two appraisals the university received, Jay Kasey, senior vice president of administration and planning, said Wednesday during a medical center Board of Trustees meeting.

Some of the land will be donated by Les and Abigail Wexner, Board members and the medical center’s namesakes, who had economic interest in an LLC that owned a piece of the parcel. A university spokesman said the “$11 million purchase price is below appraised value before you factor in the [Wexners’] gift.”

The Wexners abstained from voting on the proposal.

Ohio State also requested $4 million from its auxiliary funds to begin designing the new ambulatory center.

The university’s decision to build another new ambulatory center — roughly four months after it announced plans for a similar facility on West Campus — comes amid the national shift toward outpatient care.

The design phase of this center will begin this month; a construction date is still to be determined. The building is slated to be 200,000 square feet consisting of “surgery, endoscopy, primary care, specialty medical and surgical clinics and related support,” according to recently released Board of Trustees documents.

Roughly two-thirds of all patients that visit the James Cancer Hospital, Rhodes and Doan hall, and the Brain and Spine Hospital, are ambulatory, Board member Robert Schottenstein said in January.

Additional outpatient facilities will allow the university to have those patients treated in a variety of decentralized locations.

Jay Kasey, senior vice president of administration and planning, walks to his seat after presenting proposals to the Wexner Medical Center Board of Trustees on April 4, 2018. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Editor-in-Chief

“There’s a tremendous opportunity for us to move a lot of that off the main campus into an ambulatory facility that is more efficient to operate,” Schottenstein said then, according to Board documents. “So there’s a financial side to this as well as a convenience. And, I think, just an improvement of patient care, which is very exciting.”  

Kasey said the design of the Hamilton Road facility could be used at other outpatient locations in the future. Essentially, the building design — whatever it ends up looking like — could be picked up and placed, with a few modifications, at a new location.

Outpatient facilities are located in Upper Arlington, Dublin and Gahanna — to name a few.

Kasey’s comments indicate the university wants to continue adding new outpatient facilities throughout Franklin County.

Trauma centers

The university also is seeking to add a Level 3 trauma center to University Hospitals East, a move which will “substantially change the nature of that hospital,” said Andy Thomas, the chief clinical officer for the medical center.

The proposal, in addition to needing full Board approval, will ultimately have to be verified by the American College of Surgeons.

Ohio State also is applying to have its main hospital recertified as a Level 1 trauma center, which ACS requires every three years.

The other Level 1 trauma center in Columbus is Grant Medical Center while there are zero Level 3 facilities in the city.  

Adding a Level 3 trauma facility to University Hospitals East is significant, Thomas said, because “there are a number of patients who may have a trauma nearby.”

Currently, those patients have to be taken elsewhere, either to Grant Medical Center or Wexner Medical Center, sometimes driving by East hospital on their way.

“I think it will be a terrific project to really change the trajectory of the hospital,” Thomas said.

Both of the hospital facility projects and the trauma center decisions are subject to discussion Thursday, by the Board’s Master Planning and Facilities committee, and subject to vote and approval Friday.

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