Health-care projects create jobs in Greater RichmondSeptember 01, 2011 6:00 AM
by Doug Childers
Rendering courtesy Virginia Commonwealth University
The economy might be acting like a patient who can’t shake off a bad cold, but the sluggish recovery hasn’t flat-lined health-care projects in the Greater Richmond area.
The West Creek Emergency Center, a 10,000-square-foot facility being built by HCA Inc. in eastern Goochland County, will open in December. The $11.2 million facility is the first phase in HCA’s development of West Creek Medical Center. The 97-bed, $183 million hospital, scheduled to open in the West Creek Business Park in 2016, “will improve access to care for residents of four counties: Goochland, Henrico, Powhatan and Chesterfield,” says HCA spokesman Mark Foust. “In that sense, this site strengthens the region’s entire health-care delivery network.”
In Chesterfield County, the first building to be completed at the Bon Secours St. Francis Watkins Centre, located at the intersection of U.S. 60 and state route 288, will open in November. The building will include an emergency department with 16 bays, as well as a full-service imaging center. A second building will open in February.
Bon Secours chose to build on the site because it’s close to the St. Francis Medical Center and because the population in the Midlothian area “is expected to grow significantly in the next five to 10 years, creating a need for more medical services,” says Kevin Sheppard, vice president of ambulatory services for Bon Secours Richmond Health System. “The Watkins Centre will provide the community and local EMS with greater accessibility to emergency care — reaching out beyond Chesterfield to Powhatan, Goochland and parts of western Henrico County.” Bon Secours expects the Watkins Centre to create about 100 new jobs.
Meanwhile Richmond is positioning itself to produce significantly more doctors. Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine is slated to open the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Medical Education Center in 2013. The center, designed by the architectural firm of I.M. Pei, will allow the school to increase its class size to 250 students, up from the current class of 200. That represents “a needed boost to address the looming physician work-force shortage,” says Dr. Jerome F. Strauss, dean of the VCU School of Medicine.
VCU’s School of Medicine is currently the 20th largest medical school in the U.S. The new education center will lift it into the top 10.
In addition to producing new doctors, “The McGlothlin Center also will support post-graduate medical education for residents, and continuing medical education for community and regional physicians,” Strauss adds. “Thus, the McGlothlin Center will meet the needs for medical education across the spectrum of training.”
The McGlothlin Center is following closely on the heels of VCU’s Critical Care Hospital, a $167 million facility that opened in 2008.
More health-care companies continue to invest in the region, too. Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc., which specializes in health management, spent more than $4.2 million this year to expand its clinical laboratory, diagnostics and clinical trial services in Richmond’s Virginia BioTechnology Research Park. The company expected the expansion to produce 213 jobs in Richmond over the next three years. “However, we have already hired approximately 200 in one year,” says Tonya Mallory, the company’s co-founder and CEO, adding that the company “has enjoyed tremendous growth.”
Likewise, Merit Medical Systems Inc., a South Jordan, Utah-based manufacturer and marketer of proprietary disposable medical devices, announced plans in November to spend $1 million to expand its operations in Chesterfield County. The project will create 75 new jobs.
In June, PPD Inc., a Wilmington, N.C.-based drug research and clinical services firm with offices in 44 countries, finished expanding its Lab Services Division in eastern Henrico County. The expansion project, which cost approximately $28 million, “supports vaccine testing for an existing large pharmaceutical client,” says PPD spokeswoman Sue Ann Pentecost. It will create 190 new jobs over the next three years.
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