By Wayne Gates –
The former Southwest Regional Medical Center will be operating as a hospital again in six to nine months.
Common Pleas Judge Scott Gusweiler approved the sale of the property to Oglethorpe, Inc. for $1.2 million on October 4.
The company plans to operate the hospital as a behavioral health facility with 60-100 beds.
Oglethorpe Ohio Operations Director Patrick Tracy said that up to 250 people could be employed at the hospital with a payroll approaching $12 million once it reaches full capacity.
The deal is set to be final in about 30 days, with all outstanding real estate taxes for the property to be paid from the sale proceeds at closing.
The order also releases 62 liens against the property totaling $6,518.647.07.
“I’m very pleased. We have been waiting for the sale of the former hospital property for a long time,” said Georgetown Mayor Dale Cahall.
“I look forward to working with Oglethorpe and the new jobs the facility will bring.”
Georgetown has a 1% payroll tax on employees that live within the village limits. Since it’s impossible to determine how many employees the tax will apply to, the benefit to village finances from the additional jobs cannot be estimated at this time.
Cahall said that any additional revenue from the payroll tax will go toward needed services like the police department, fire/EMS or road repair.
Tracy said he and Oglethorpe are ready to get to work.
“We are very happy that the judge decided to approve the sale and we are looking forward to treating patients and bringing jobs to the community. We’ve already has an architect in there to plan out the improvements needed to get the building up to codes.”
Tracy said that the Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals in the United States, plus the Ohio Department of Mental Health and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services all must sign off on the project.
The village of Georgetown held a public hearing on the sale on Sept. 21 as a zoning change necessary to the sale was being considered.
During the hearing, Tracy said that Oglethorpe would be spending approximately $1 million to renovate the hospital in addition to paying $1.2 million for the property.
He also said that the hospital is a voluntary stay facility and would not discharge patients without a plan for followup care and a destination.
Tracy added that the hospital staff will be trained to handle any patient needs and that security will not be an issue.
The Georgetown Village Council voted 3-2 to approve the zoning change.
Tracy said that the company plans to make a $5000 donation to the Brown County Drug and Major Crimes Task Force once the deal is closed.
He also said that the company is open to talking about leasing the emergency room space to another operator.
“If there are other entities that want to lease that, we really want to do that. That would provide a service to the community and improve the service for our patients here,” Tracy said.
He also expressed gratitude to everyone in the area that has helped with the sale process.
“We would like to thank the Georgetown Village Council, the mayor and the people of Georgetown for making us feel welcome. We are looking forward to a productive community partnership,” said Tracy.
Oglethorpe operates three other hospitals in Ohio, and seven other facilities in Texas, Louisiana and Florida.