LORAIN — The city’s largest employer broke ground on an expansion Thursday along Oak Point Road.
CEO for Mercy Health Lorain and senior vice president of Mercy Health Ed Oley said the new 30,000-square-foot medical center, which is expected to open this fall and offer primary-care appointments as well as walk-in services, is a new opportunity for members of the community to stay close for quality health care.
“We’re breaking ground on this facility today only after careful assessment of this community’s need for access to care,” he said. “We have spent time listening to our patients, providers and community leaders to understand their healthcare needs and look forward to delivering them.”
Oley also addressed the controversy that surrounded the project when it was first introduced — residents were upset at the idea of changing the zoning of the land to allow business, fearing the increased traffic would adversely affect the corridor and a business wouldn’t fit in near so many residential neighborhoods.
“Additionally, we have spent much time listening to and working with the residents of Oak Point,” he said. “This facility has been designed to protect the years of hard work this neighborhood has spent perfecting and building an environment that is conducive to a happy and healthy lifestyle. Building a healthy community also means building a healthy landscape. Our facility will be meticulously maintained. It is my (personal) commitment that we will be a good neighbor to those in the surrounding area.”
Mayor Chase Ritenauer said the facility, which is expected to have as many as 75 employees and $5 million in annual payroll, is an example that Mercy and the city have the same vision for Lorain.
“It’s one that emphasizes health and wellness and providing access to care that every resident in our community occurs,” he said. “This is really a true example of collaboration fostering growth. Not only is this going to be an additional access point for our residents it’s also an investment in Lorain.”
Ritenauer said the new building was important for Lorain and being able to help Mercy expand in Lorain was paramount rather than it leave to go elsewhere. He also acknowledged that the Bitar family donating the land was critical.
President of the Mercy Foundation of Lorain County Scott Pember echoed Ritenauer’s comments about the Bitar family, saying that the land where the facility would be built had been with the family for 50 years.
“I met them about five years ago when I was involved in another project here in the area and was talking to them many times over the years about doing something with this property,” he said.
“When Ed came to me and we talked about this project the first thing that came to my mind was maybe the Bitars would want to be involved and they became fantastic partners.”
Bryant Bitar said his family, in addition to donating the land for this new facility, has helped to make an impact in Lorain County over the years through actions such as donating land to develop Beaver Creek Park, “a reservation center that brings families together from all over the community.”
“Both contributions to our area go back to our core values — family and health,” he said.
“We are excited to bring this class A medical facility to Lorain and working with our relationships to bring new jobs and growth to the area.”