Plans to build a second medical office building at the Fulton County Health Center have been boosted by a $54.6 million loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown announced approval of the 30-year, low-interest Rural Development loan last week. It will be used to construct a four-story, $22.5 million medical facility on the south side of the hospital campus, behind the present Emergency Department. The 62,200 square foot building will be attached to the hospital and three floors will be leased for family practices, obstetrics and gynecology, and general surgeons, among other specialists.
The fourth floor will remain undeveloped in anticipation of future use that could involve other options.
The remainder of the Rural Development loan will pay off present FCHC bonds. The loan itself will be paid back through leasing the new building.
According to the USDA’s Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program criteria, the loan can be used to purchase, build or improve essential community facilities, pay related costs, and buy equipment. Rural areas eligible to receive a loan can have no more than 20,000 residents.
FCHC CEO Patty Finn said the building has been in development the past 18 months to two years to fill a need for additional offices for medical practitioners. The hospital campus has completely filled all available space in the campus’s north side medical building opened in 2000.
“Right now, we’re hurting for space in the present office building ,” Finn said. “We’re full. It’s a good problem to have. Hopefully, (the new building will) be able to attract additional general care, family practice, OB-GYN, and a general surgeon,” Finn said.
Construction likely won’t begin until next spring, and will take between 18 months and two years to complete. FCHC is currently shopping for bids, and should select a contractor in a couple of weeks.
“In order for us to continue to provide additional services and to increase some of the same services we have for the community, it’s paramount,” Finn said of the building.
Three or four of the campus’s specialists have left over the past 18 months for fellowships or other opportunities, she said.
Brown said the addition is necessary for the hospital to continue providing critical access to medical care for county residents.
“This project will help solve the center’s current space shortage, attract more medical specialists to the area, and ensure that Fulton County Health Center can continue its important work,” he said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.