October 9th, 2011
Middleburg Heights, Ohio - Southwest General Health System plans to spend $128 million over the next four years for additions and improvements.
The 358-bed hospital in Middleburg Heights plans to roll out construction in two phases, with the understanding that the second half could be delayed if the economy worsens, said Southwest President and Chief Executive Thomas Selden.
"We want to monitor the market conditions," Selden said. "With the health care reform legislation, I think we have appropriately taken a conservative approach so that we don't overextend ourselves."
During the first phase, Southwest plans to expand its emergency department, build a new critical-care unit and add a patient parking garage on the north side of the main campus. That work is scheduled to begin in May 2012 and cost $66 million.
The second phase, which is slated to begin in late 2012, will include a new patient bed tower with 100 private rooms and the renovation of most of its current two-person rooms into private rooms. Southwest also plans to build a new main entrance to the hospital.
When construction ends in 2015, the hospital will have about 400 beds.
"We're building for the future," Selden said, but he added that the health system is also "controlling our expenses on a day-to-day basis."
Southwest, located about 20 miles southwest of Cleveland, is part of an outer-ring market with a reach into Medina and Lorain counties. It's positioned well for future growth, according to an August report by credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service.
Already, the health system serves a lower number of Medicaid patients than Cleveland-area hospitals. In addition, the market from which it draws patients has a relatively low unemployment rate, according to Moody's.
Selden said Southwest's emergency department is "about half the size it should be" for the number of patients who seek care.
So far this year, Southwest has provided 15 percent more maternity services than it did last year. It's also increasing its orthopedic and cardiology businesses, Selden said.
Moody's notes that while its surgeries were down last year, Southwest pushed physician recruiting and is now reporting a 1.3 percent increase in surgeries this year.
In addition, the hospital's long-term, 10-year affiliation agreement with University Hospitals Health System has helped Southwest compete and improve its market presence, according to the report.
The UH agreement was re-signed in January.