As the population of Cincinnati's west side continues to grow and shift to the north and west, so too does the area's medical services. The previously untapped market in western Hamilton County is now being aggressively pursued by hospitals and medical services looking to establish long-term roots in the developing communities.
In recent years outpatient medical buildings have popped up off of the Rybolt Road/Harrison Avenue exit off Interstate 74 in Green Township. Those have been followed by the recent announcement of Mercy Health Partners
' plans to consolidate their western Hamilton County operations into one facility off the North Bend Road exit along I-74 also in Green Township.
The new $200 million Mercy West Hospital will be located on a 60-acre site and could potentially open within four to five years following a recent zoning approval from the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission. The new hospital would feature 200 to 250 beds and will replace Mercy Health Partner's other west side locations - Mercy Hospital Western Hills and Mercy Hospital Mount Airy.
Not far behind is Tri-Health's
Good Samaritan Hospital which announced earlier this month that it has its eyes on another Green Township location along the I-74 corridor. The Good Samaritan Medical Center at Western Ridge would include an emergency room and outpatient center operations.
Plans for the Good Sam medical center call for a groundbreaking this year with hopes of opening by the fall of 2010 and will be developed by BremnerDuke Healthcare Real Estate
. The completed facility would boast 24-hour emergency services, a helipad and X-ray imaging.
Not everyone is viewing the new investment as a positive for the once sleepy area of rolling hills and thick woodland areas. The Mercy West Hospital came under significant criticism by nearby residents fearful of the additional traffic and congestion the hospital would bring to North Bend Road and the surrounding streets.
The Good Samaritan Medical Center at Western Ridge will be built on a hillside once covered with dense vegetation that has now been stripped clean - a process that took place just up the road when the Western Commons retail development went in a few short years ago.
The Rybolt Road/Harrison Avenue exit is also already plagued by congestion which engineers hope to resolve with the ongoing reconstruction project of the on/off ramps to I-74, the widening of Harrison Avenue and the realignment of the hilly Rybolt Road.
Further east at the North Bend exit, drivers are awaiting the completion of the ramp meters that will regulate traffic flow onto the interstate during peak driving times in hopes of reducing further congestion problems along that stretch of I-74 - something that may soon be in the cards for the Rybolt Road/Harrison Avenue exit as well.
It is yet to be seen whether these solutions will help reduce the traffic congestion that has come along with the rapid development along the I-74 corridor through western Hamilton County, but it is certain that the development will continue to come as the corridor grows into the business and commercial hub for the west side that has limited transportation connection to the rest of the region.
Writer: Randy Simes
Photography by Roland Johnson and provided by The Hillside Trust