|Ocala, FL -
August 31, 2012|
Published: Friday, August 31, 2012 at 10:08 a.m.
Munroe Regional Medical Center physical therapist assistant Kristen Corley, left, removes the dressing from Airon Canterberry's left arm while preparing her for her daily hydro therapy for her first- and second-degree burns in the medical surgical unit Thursday afternoon. MRMC is planning to lease 5,000 square feet of space to create a new wound care center which will be an outpatient facility.
Munroe Regional Medical Center is investing nearly $2.1 million to expand its wound care treatment program, with plans to be operating at a new location by January.
The not-for-profit hospital plans to establish an outpatient center in Cala Hills, in facilities currently leased and occupied by Munroe competitor Ocala Health System. The latter company's lease will expire in the coming months.
Currently, Munroe treats patients' wound problems at its Southwest First Avenue hospital. Most receive care on an inpatient basis. The current program doesn't offer hyperbaric oxygen chambers, which have been proven to promote wound healing.
The new facility will have those chambers and will be easier to access on an outpatient basis.
“I think it's a great opportunity for the community to get a comprehensive wound care program,” Dr. Lon McPherson told hospital board members earlier this month. He is Munroe's vice president of medical affairs and chief quality officer.
Munroe will take over the lease of the nearly 5,100-square-foot building that houses Ocala Health System's Wound Care & Hyperbaric Services.
Munroe will not take over the business. It will just occupy the building, which is off Southwest 19th Avenue Road, also known as Easy Street.
Ocala Health System would say little about Munroe's move to take over the Wound Care & Hyperbaric Services building.
Ocala Health spokeswoman Suzanne Santangelo said only: “We will continue to operate our wound center and plan to relocate our services.”
Typically, wound healing problems are a result of poor blood circulation in the affected area. The problem is often seen in patients suffering from diabetes or vascular disease, and is more common among elderly patients, cigarette smokers and those with high cholesterol levels.
Marc Miller, vice president of physician services, told hospital board and Marion County Hospital District trustees this week that while there are financial risks associates with expanding the business into a new facility, he predicted the program will be profitable by its second year and generate a net income stream of about $150,000 annually by the second and third years.
Miller estimates the facility will serve about 300 patients per year, with each patient making about 10 visits.
Miller said that by taking over a building already fitted as a wound care center, Munroe will save about $95,000 in start-up costs.
The building is owned by Jon Kurtz and his wife, Kay. Jon Kurtz is also a Munroe Regional Health System board member and the Hospital District chairman. Kurtz recused himself from the board and trustee vote on this matter.
When questioned by his fellow board and district members about whether he approached Munroe or whether Munroe executives approached him about leasing the building, Jon Kurtz said the building is overseen by a management group, which handled all communications.
Munroe Regional Medical Center is owned by the state-sanctioned Marion County Hospital District and overseen by seven trustees who are appointed by the County Commission. The seven trustees currently lease the hospital to Munroe Regional Health System, Inc., which is overseen by a 13-member board, some of whose members are also district trustees.
The hospital board and District trustees voted this week unanimously to give hospital executives permission to lease the property.
During the meeting, Munroe CEO Steve Purves said of the pre-fitted building: “We want that space. It's extraordinarily expensive to retrofit (another facility). Not only that, it's a great location.”
Kurtz said he was not renewing Ocala Health's lease, although Ocala Health had told him it wanted to renew. Ocala Health also owns Ocala Regional Medical Center across the street from Munroe and is its primary competitor.
McPherson said that area doctors had asked for a wound care center.
He said after the board and trustee meetings that doctors wanted a wound center with Munroe involvement, given their confidence in the quality of service at Munroe.
“They (area doctors) provided a lot of encouragement,” he said of the decision to expand the hospital's wound care service.
By opening an expanded, dedicated wound care facility, healthcare providers can focus on the single specialty and patients will benefit, he said.
Munroe will pay Kurtz $20.50 per square foot per year. That is fair market value based on other leased commercial space, Miller told board and trustee members.
Under the plan, Nautilus Healthcare will manage the wound center for Munroe. By the second year of the three-year lease, Munroe will pay Nautilus $589,000 for its management oversight and on-site personnel. Munroe will also pay another estimated $263,000 in overhead costs during the second year of operation.
Miller said Nautilus had a good reputation for operating wound care centers. And while Munroe has experience as an inpatient wound care service provider, Miller said operating a stand-alone, outpatient facility was different.
District trustee Larry Strack said he was concerned that the expected revenues from the wound care center may not be realized, especially if Ocala Health finds another location for its wound care center.
“I can't see our neighbor walking away from this service,” he said.
Even if Ocala Health remained in the business, Miller said he still expects Munroe's program to be profitable.