Eye Group Seeks Center Approval

June 4, 2004
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MUSKEGON — A group of ophthalmologists plans to build its own center to handle eye surgeries.

The five partners in Shoreline Ophthalmology PLC expect to have the $2.8 million surgical center open next summer and perform nearly 5,000 procedures at the facility in the first year.

The center is planned for a site adjacent to Shoreline Ophthalmology’s offices on Sherman Boulevard in Muskegon. The surgical center will provide the group more control over scheduling procedures, more continuity in surgical support teams and improved convenience for doctors and patients.

The firm’s administrator, Chris Grek, said all of that points to a more economical setting than a hospital to perform many routine eye surgeries.

“The economies of scale are better if we have more control over what’s done,” Grek said.

“It made a lot of good business sense,” he added. “We’ve grown to the point where we’re not a mom-and-pop ophthalmology practice anymore. We’re a group and we’ve grown as a group.”

Shoreline Ophthalmology will perform cataract, Lasik and other vision-corrective surgeries at the new surgical center.

The group will continue to perform more difficult and complex cases at Muskegon’s Hackley Hospital and Mercy General Health Partners.

“Whatever is best for the patient is what we’ll do,” Grek said.

Shoreline Ophthalmology is seeking a certificate of need from the Michigan Department of Community Health to proceed with the project.

The Evaluation Board of the Alliance for Health, a Grand Rapids health-care planning agency, voted unanimously last month to endorse the project and recommended approval to the Department of Community Health.

The department is expected to rule on the application by Aug. 31.

The notion of taking certain types of surgical specialties outside of hospitals has become a trend. It has found ready public acceptance because it usually enables patients to avoid the hassle of repeated dealings with hospital admissions staffs.

The center will house two operating rooms, a laser treatment room, pre-operative and post-op facilities and will require Shoreline Ophthalmology to hire nine additional staff members.

Grek estimates the surgical center will perform 4,800 procedures during the first 12 months of operation. The new surgical center is designed for an annual capacity of 5,500 procedures, he said.

Shoreline Ophthalmology’s partners intend to expand the surgical center, probably within three to five years, as patient volumes grow and exceed capacity.

The group has plenty of space available for expansion at its 3.5-acre campus, located adjacent to Mercy General Health Partners.

“The plan is to build it for what we need it for right now, maximize its use, and then add on to it as need be,” Grek said.

Shoreline Ophthalmology last year performed 5,364 procedures, according to the CON application. The procedures were split between Hackley Hospital, Mercy General, and North Ottawa Community Hospital in Grand Haven.

The physicians involved in the surgical center venture are Timothy Barron, Mark Kinzinger, John Oltean, Kenneth Otto and Lee Webster.    

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