Thursday, September 30, 2010

Client News: Oakwood wants to build $23M facility

Source: The Detroit News
Written by: Melissa Burden

Detroit -- Oakwood Healthcare Inc. wants to build a $23 million medical building near the Southfield Freeway and West Outer Drive, a project that would significantly expand its presence in the city.

The Dearborn-based health care system received preliminary approval from the Detroit Economic Development Corp. board to tap federal bonds to help finance the project

Plans call for a 70,000-square-foot building that would include a surgery center, space for medical services, radiology and clinical programs, according to EDC documents.

Oakwood wants to lease six acres on the northwest campus of Wayne County Community College, and the facility would serve as an education site for health students, according to the EDC. The project would create 162 job, according to EDC documents.

Paula Rivera-Kerr, a health system spokeswoman, had no information to share about the project Tuesday because "the approval process is a long way away and the project is really in the very early stages."

The college has been in discussions with Oakwood, but an agreement has not been reached, said Mike Dotson, the college's vice chancellor for campus operations.

Dotson said the college partners with all the major Metro Detroit health care systems to offer health students practical work experience.

"Any time we can partner with any of the health care systems going forward, it benefits our students, it benefits our communities," he said.

Oakwood wants to use up to $20 million in recovery zone facility bonds to fund the project, said Scott Veldhuis, a project manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., which provides staff services to the EDC. The city was allocated $74.5 million in federal stimulus money for the bonds.

The project must go through more approval steps before the bonds can be issued, though it's expected that could happen by year's end, Veldhuis said.

An official with the Michigan Department of Community Health said Oakwood has not yet filed a certificate-of-need application for a surgery center in Detroit, which must be approved by state health officials before construction can begin.

Oakwood owns four hospitals, 45 primary care/specialty care sites and employs more than 9,200 employees in Metro Detroit. It has owned Midwest Health Center, an occupational medicine clinic in Midtown, since 2009.

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