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Construction begins on Mercy's $45 million expansion


Officials: response and enabler of community growth



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June 09, 2010 | 08:42 AM
Geneva Township — With bulldozers and shovels ready last week, Mercy Walworth Medical Center officials unveiled the details and artist renderings of a $45-million expansion.

A traditional groundbreaking ceremony started the construction project on what is now a dirt and grass lot next to the current facility at the intersection of highways 50 and 67.

The project will expand the current center from 60,000 square feet to 200,000. Additions will include a birthing center, more patient rooms, intensive care unit and an outpatient clinic. There also will be a sleep disorders lab, a cafeteria with an outside courtyard, a chapel and community education rooms, screenings and presentations. The radiology, physical therapy and pharmacy departments also will expand.

Mercy President and CEO Javon Bea said at the groundbreaking ceremony that the expansion will also require 70 more full-time employees, including 10 physicians.

"Our vision has always been to fulfill the needs of our communities," Bea said. "Instead of just getting ahead of ourselves, we are just doing what's necessary to fill a need that was determined by a study."

He said according to marketing research and assessment on local health care needs, it was clear the nearby communities wanted more care and services closer to home.

More patients with critical injuries and illnesses will be able to travel less to seek the care they need. Accident victims in the area may also be transported to Mercy instead of Lakeland Medical Center in Elkhorn for intensive care. That also makes it easier for families to visit as well, Bea said.

He added it may be possible that after being stabilized, some more seriously-injured patients will be transferred to Mercy Hospital in Janesville.

"Walworth County is one of the fastest-growing counties in Wisconsin and our volume of patients is so large," he said. "We're not building this in hopes more patients will come, we already have the patients to acquire the added square feet and 10 new physicians."

Mercy officials dedicated the expansion to the future growth of the hospital and communities with the planting of a sapling and a mission to provide "serious health care close to home."

In addition to 70 new Mercy employees, Bea said 50 to 400 construction workers will be hired locally throughout the life of the project, adding more opportunities to Geneva Township, village of Williams Bay and nearby municipalities.

Mercy Vice President Rich Gruber said the project already has brought inquiries from local lodging and fuel companies about supplying resources for the workers and project.

"Plus, all of those possible 400 workers will need to eat somewhere during the day, they'll shop nearby work and will turn over dollars into community businesses," Gruber said. "I can see local businesses having to add staff themselves to provide more services. And plus, we'll also need more office supplies and there are places in Delavan and Lake Geneva that could supply that."

The project wouldn't have been possible without the support from Geneva and Williams Bay, Bea said.

Although located in Geneva Township, Mercy had to look to neighboring Williams Bay for water services. Geneva officials believed their system did not have the capacity to serve the expansion.

Williams Bay Board members with the village attorney negotiated with Mercy officials for about eight months before an agreement was reached and approved.

Mercy agreed to pay the village for the $1.5 million installation required to connect to its water main. It will extend the village's current water system from the center to Chase Field Drive in Bailey Estates.

Mercy also agreed to pay $225,000 — its share of cost to replace the water reserve capacity for the water main system. There also will be an annual payment based mostly on property taxes.

Geneva Chairman Dan Lauderdale said his town his thankful Mercy selected the area.

"This would not have been possible without the cooperative efforts of the Williams Bay representatives," he said. "It's been a long two years that included extraterritorial zoning between the communities. All of the concerns and needs of both Williams Bay and Geneva have been fully addressed. This has been a wonderful partnership that will benefit everyone."

With a completion date of 2013, Mercy Walworth Medical Center is expected to stay open and undisturbed during construction.

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