Metro Health Mulls New Surgical Site

June 29, 2007
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PLAINFIELDTOWNSHIP — Metro Health is proposing an outpatient surgical center north of the intersection of

Four Mile Road
and
East Beltline Avenue NE.

The 15,567-square-foot center, which Metro Health would lease, would be located at

3800 East Beltline Ave. NE.
The two-story building would have three operating rooms "plus a procedural room" in the bottom level, according to a statement from the hospital. Physicians' offices would be located on the upper level.

According to a letter of intent filed by Metro Health with the Michigan Department of Community Health, the total cost of the project is $8.6 million, with fixed medical equipment at $2.9 million and leasing costs pegged at $5.6 million. It does not indicate who would own the building.

Metro Health is planning to leave its Grand Rapids home of 50 years at

1919 Boston St. SE
for a new, $150 million, 208-bed hospital in Wyoming on Sept. 30. The new hospital will have nine operating rooms, said Metro Health Communications Manager Ellen Bristol, as does the current facility.

The proposed outpatient surgical center is kitty-corner across the Grand Rapids metropolitan area from the new facility.

"The proposal location for the surgical center was chosen to give Metro Health patients who live furthest from the new campus a more convenient option," read the hospital's statement.

"It also allows Metro to continue to offer the same types of surgeries that are currently provided, only at a different location at a lower cost. When the new hospital was designed it was anticipated that surgical capacity would need to expand due to patient volume and demand, but the decision was to accommodate such growth in an off-site center such as what is being proposed."

According to Metro Health's World Wide Web site, for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2006, the hospital handled a total of 12,876 surgeries. Inpatient cases accounted for 2,739 of the operations, and outpatient cases for 10,136, or 78.7 percent.

None of Metro Health's 10 outpatient sites, which house physicians' offices, offer surgery, Bristol said.

Plainfield Township Community Development Director Bill Fischer said the site is north of the planned new 63rd District courthouse. The township has not received any information regarding the surgical center, he said.

But Fischer said a surgical center at that location would require rezoning the land — part of an old landfill — from rural estate residential to office. He said the change would be consistent with the township's master land use plan.

Any rezoning request goes first to the Planning Commission, which then makes a recommendation to the Township Board. Fischer said the applicant would then return to the Planning Commission for a site plan review. The entire process could take three to four months, he said. Fischer said the Michigan Department of Transportation, which controls egress and ingress for East Beltline, has indicated that the surgical center would need to share a driveway with the new courthouse.

"I've fielded several phone calls from architects, landscape architects, working on this," Fischer said. "Behind the scenes, they're working hard on the plans."

The letter of intent filed by Metro Health is part of the Certificate of Need process, which would be required for the hospital to proceed with the new surgical center. The hospital's statement indicated that it is uncertain when the next step will occur, and that it could be as long as a year.

The Grand Rapids area has seven ambulatory surgical centers, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Web site.     

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