Janesville58.8°

Hospital will add 500 jobs

Print Print
JAMES P. LEUTE
July 17, 2009
— In addition to pumping about $150 million into the local economy, a new hospital and clinic will add about 500 good-paying jobs to a community that’s been battered by job losses for the last 18 months.

Making good on promises first delivered in April 2008, officials with SSM Health Care of Wisconsin and Dean Health System said Thursday they’re moving ahead with plans for a 50-bed hospital and physicians office complex.


Construction will start in October on the 313,000-square-foot facility at the intersection of Interstate 90/39 and Highway 11 on Janesville’s east side.


When it opens in late 2011, the 163,000-square-foot St. Mary’s Janesville Hospital will be staffed by about 300 employees, a portion of whom might transfer from other SSM locations.


But officials have said a larger portion likely will be new hires.


The 150,000-square-foot Dean Clinic Janesville will create 44 new jobs. About 380 doctors and employees will transfer to the new facility from the Riverview and Northview clinics in Janesville.


Another 150 or so jobs will be created to serve the hospital and clinic, although they will not be direct employees of either St. Mary’s or Dean. Examples include environmental and waste services.


Bob Borremans of the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board said the project is significant on several fronts.


“A lot of these will be brand new jobs with good pay and benefits,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it, health care is a driver, the fastest growing sector in the economy.


“These are jobs that can’t be outsourced to some other country.”


A solid health care industry also is an economic development tool when it comes to recruiting other companies and industries to town, he said.


In addition, SSM and Dean are following the corporate citizenship model set by Mercy Health System in a number of community initiatives, both educational and on the economic development front, Borremans said.


Borremans said health care jobs are a hot topic at the Rock County Job Center, but the Janesville area is hampered by its lack of educational capacity in the field. Waiting lists for health care programs at Blackhawk Technical College are just too long, although steps are being taken to alleviate the crush, he said.


But, he noted, not all jobs in health care require nursing or doctoral degrees.


“There are plenty of other good jobs needed to run these operations,” he said.


Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan, D-Janesville, said the project will provide a much-needed boost to the community.


“While serving the health care needs of the people of Janesville, the new Dean and St. Mary’s facility will create great economic opportunities,” Sheridan said. “The hospital and clinic will support close to 500 jobs in Janesville, and we know that improving our health care infrastructure will help attract new employers to the area, as well.”


SSM and Dean have said Janesville residents want more health care options.


Mary Starmann-Harrison, SSM’s president and CEO, said studies show the Janesville area will need 100 more hospital beds by 2011 and that 40 percent of residents leave Janesville for their health care.


“We think that 40 percent would rather stay in Janesville,” she said.


Mercy Health System operates Mercy Hospital in Janesville. Officials there repeatedly have said the community has enough hospital beds and the new hospital will duplicate services and drive up health care costs.


Starmann-Harrison and others have countered that competition will improve quality, drive efficiency and lower costs.


SSM—the parent of St. Mary’s—and Dean staged a groundbreaking ceremony in November.


But in February, officials delayed the project because of unfavorable interest rates in the tax-exempt bond markets. At the time, SSM included the Janesville project in a larger bond issue with other SSM projects.


Starmann-Harrison said Thursday the need for the project still exists, and the community has been unwavering in its support.


While bond markets haven’t improved much, the Janesville project is the partners’ top priority, she said. Recoveries in other investment markets, an improving economy and tighter control of operating expenses are the foundation to move the project forward, she said.


In the short term, SSM will dip into its cash reserves and wait for the bond markets to improve, she said.


The delay helped hospital and clinic officials firm up design plans for the facility, said Kerry Swanson, the hospital’s new president.


J.P. Cullen & Sons of Janesville will be one of the main contractors on the building project.


Craig Sammitt, Dean’s president and CEO, said the future of health care will involve deeper levels of collaboration and integration, particularly as reform looms on the horizon.


The Janesville project, he said, is an example of the necessary partnership between SSM, which primarily runs hospitals, and Dean, which primarily operates physician clinics.


Staff at the Dean clinics learned Thursday the project was back on track.


“There was a lot of applause and happiness,” said Mark McDade, a Dean surgeon. “There really wasn’t any doubt about the project, but there was some anticipation.


“This is an indicator that things are happening in this community.”


Sammitt and Starmann-Harrison agreed, saying Dean and SSM are pleased to support a community that has suffered so much in the last year.


Sammitt said he hopes the project triggers other investment in the Janesville area.


“It’s a great day for Janesville and a ray of hope for our local economy,” Starmann-Harrison said. “We’re ready to move full speed ahead and get this medical campus up and running.”


HOSPITAL FACTS

Here are a few facts about SSM Health Care and Dean Heath System’s new hospital and clinic:


Location: On a 50-acre site at the southeast corner of Interstate 90/39 and Highway 11.


Number of jobs: 344 direct jobs in the community and 155 indirect jobs.


Cost: $150 million. No state or federal funds will be used.


Size: The 50-bed hospital will be approximately 163,000 square feet. The clinic will be 150,000 square feet. The site includes space for future growth.


Opening date: Early 2011.


The new medical campus will use:


-- 1,073 tons of steel, a weight equivalent to about 2,200 cows.


-- 4,530 cubic yards of concrete, or enough for 45 homes with full basements.


-- 2.3 million feet of wire, about 436 miles or two roundtrips between Janesville and Chicago.


-- 191,0000 exterior bricks, about 35 miles or 140 laps around the Monterey Stadium if laid end-to-end.


-- 95,400 feet of wire, about 8 miles or the distance from Janesville to just past Edgerton.


-- 13,800 square feet of glass, more than enough to cover the Pontiac Convention Center.


-- 21,370 feet of HVAC piping, enough to reach downtown Janesville from the new medical campus.



Print Print