Common Staff Writer
Community members and leaders along with King’s Daughters Medical Center officials gathered at King’s Daughters Medical Center Ohio (KDMCO) on Friday to ceremonially open the facility with a ribbon cutting.
Among those in attendance were 2nd district Congressman Brad Wenstrup and Jane Portman, wife of U.S. Senator Rob Portman.
Also in attendance and serving as master of ceremonies was Fred Jackson, CEO of KDMC Health System.
“We’re now in 58 different locations, in 26 different cities throughout the tri-state,” Jackson said. “This (KDMCO) project was a vision. I remember sitting in my office about a decade ago, saying it would be neat to have a facility like this in Portsmouth, in the middle of Scioto County. At the time we all thought it would be neat.”
He said the recession hit the country in 2008 and that put the plans for the project on hold.
“About 18 months ago we resurrected the project and brought it to fruition. With a lot of blood, sweet, toil and tears we were able to get this project completed in an 18 month time period,” Jackson said.
Jackson said there were a number of reasons KDMC decided to build a hospital in Portsmouth.
“Scioto and Lawrence Counties have some of the lowest health factors of the 88 counties in the state of Ohio. Having the lowest health factors in the state is not a good thing and one of our goals is to help improve upon that.”
He said one of the other reasons the project was built was that a lot of people were driving from this area to travel to other KDMC facilities for various treatments.
“We saw a large number of Scioto County residents traveling outside the county to get their healthcare. Our concept was, why not get your health care closer to home,” Jackson said. “They say that all politics are local, we think all health care should be local. What we’ve constructed is what we believe to be a hometown hospital, for the people of Portsmouth.”
Jackson said this project represents a large investment in the Portsmouth community.
“Our original investment was back in 2007, we put about $10 million into the medial office structure, that’s represented by the 27,000 square feet. The 53,000 square feet that this facility represents is about another $25 million dollars. So, we’ll have about a $35 million investment in this campus, when we open on the fourth,” Jackson said.
He said one of KDMC’s goals with this project was to hire as many people from the Portsmouth, Scioto County area as possible.
“We will have about 150 people working here on this campus. We have 60 people working in the medical office building. We are hiring an additional 90 people for a total of 150. Approximately 85 percent of that total number is from the Scioto County area,” Jackson said. “The goal was not to bring people in from outside of the area, but to make this a hometown hospital. When we open on Feb. 4 we will have about 50 physicians on staff. About half of them are from the Portsmouth area and about half of them are from within our health system.”
Portman who is a member of the board of directors for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital was amazed at the facility and commended KDMC for providing such a facility to the citizens of the area.
Friday mornings ribbon cutting was the first public speaking appearance Wenstrup made since joining congress earlier this year.
“As a physician and a surgeon and as I tour here today I’m impressed with what you’ve done. I’ve been in a situation, trying to put something like this together on a smaller scale, I know the challenges and difficulties that come with that,” Wenstrup said. “This community is blessed to have King’s Daughters doing something like this in your community.”
Wenstrup said he has had the opportunity to travel around the world as a soldier and one of the things he always brings back with him is the goodness and kindness of the American people and what our priorities are.
“Our priorities stem from taking care of each other. What we see here (KDMCO) is a great example of that, in the building of this wonderful center. This was built with physician involvement. The physicians that got involved, did not do it for themselves, they did it on behalf of their patients,” Wenstrup said.
He said as the country moves forward with healthcare, there are a lot of unknowns.
“The only certainty we have is uncertainty and how healthcare is going to be delivered in the United States. The one thing we can always focus on in American, is who is the uncared for. Who are those who are not getting cared for, why and how do we deliver it,” Wenstrup said. “I appreciate the community approach that was taken to this whole project, 90 percent of those involved were from Ohio and 85 percent from southern Ohio. Workers and professional people were brought in who will live and work in our community, to make this a greater place.”
A number of events are being planned for the opening of the facility. On Saturday, Feb. 2 a community open house will held from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. that will feature free health screenings, giveaways and the opportunity to tour the facility and meet the staff. The facility will open on Monday, Feb. 4.
For more information about KDMCO visit them at 2001 Scioto Trail, Portsmouth or call 740-991-4000 or visit www.kdmcohio.com.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-1151, or firstname.lastname@example.org