ONTARIO, OHIO – Residents of Richland County and the surrounding area can turn to another option for receiving medical care, as Galion-based Avita Health System is set to expand its healthcare facility located at the Richland Mall.
Avita officials announced on Tuesday their plans to expand the Richland County care facility’s operation to include a 22-bed emergency department, a 19-bed inpatient wing, a 16-bed pre/post operation area, a seven bed intensive care unit, four surgical suites, expanded radiology care and a pulmonary department.
To fund the project, Avita will rely on a $91.4 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture to create its three store multi-faceted medical facility. The USDA’s loan is the largest investment the governmental agency has granted for an Ohio development project.
“The partnership between USDA and Avita Health System will ensure that more Ohioans in Richland County and the surrounding area have access to the health care they need,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, in a statement. “As a proud Mansfield native, I am eager to see new investments and business in Richland County. This historic $91.4 million award from the Department of Agriculture is a major boost for Ontario and our state. It will give Avita the ability to expand services. This will benefit both the Health System and those in need of quality care.
The facility is projected to be 104,000 square foot upon completion and serve approximately 125,000 area residents in Richland and Crawford Counties.
The project is estimated to cost $60 million; the remainder of the federal loan will go to additional Avita capital expenses.
“The new facility will bring affordable health care and new options for care close to home (for area residents),” stated Dave Douglas the Rural Development Community Programs Director for the USDA in a press conference on Tuesday.
Initially the health care provider opened its doors in Richland County in 2014, after purchasing and developing the vacant Lazarus retail store at the Richland Mall as part of phase I of its three-phase project.
Following completion of the first construction phase, Avita will begin phase II next month, which includes the previous stated expansion of the 17-acre facility.
“We have a quicktime line here,” Avita CEO Jerry Morasco said. “Construction will begin in December. It will take about 12-15 months to complete.”
In addition to providing area residents with community centered healthcare, Avita projects the new construction will bring 350-400 new jobs to Richland County, as the county is currently considered a healthcare professional shortage area. Avita’s expanded facility aims to bring new physicians, nurses and healthcare technicians to Richland.
“We are proud to announce the loan to help Avita continue this remarkable Phoenix from the ashes story,” Vernita Dore Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development for the USDA. “Avita’s presence is breathing a new life into the area.”
Phase II of the project is expected to begin in the next few weeks.
Dave Douglas from the USDA addresses the crowd gathered outside of Avita Health System on Tuesday.
Vernita Dore Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development for the USDA speaks to the crowd on Tuesday.
Reach Jones on Twitter @Bellville_Jones or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org