SIDNEY — Wilson Health has purchased 24 1/2 acres of land along S. Vandemark Road and has undertaken a feasibility study to determine how it might best expand its services in the added location.
A cancer center is a possiblity.
“It’s one of the things we’d like to consider out there,” Mark J. Dooley, Wilson Health president/CEO, told the Sidney Daily News Friday.
“We have engaged a company called Oncology Solutions to do a feasiblity study, but we haven’t finished the process yet. We have a ways to go. If we did that, at the earliest, we’d probably start construction in early 2017.”
The property is located just north of the intersection of Vandemark and Fair roads on the east side of the street, between the Hampton Inn and Hexa Americas Inc. It currently is a soybean field. The purchase price was $1,470,000, which equalled $60,000 per acre, and the sale became final on Aug. 27.
Dooley said that he and the hospital board of directors had worked with a realtor who scouted other parcels.
“The combination of accessibility (from the city and from the interstate) and what we felt was a reasonable, fair price for the land” was what made this particular property attractive, he said. “And it’s still in the city limits.”
Funds for the purchase had been budgeted for capital expenditures during 2015. When the budget was approved, the funds had been earmarked for a new MRI scanner, but hospital officials determined that the MRI scanner currently in use did not need to be replaced. So funds were reallocated for the land acquisition.
Dooley said that for several years, Wilson leaders had looked into the possibility of buying property adjacent to the familiar healthcare complex that sits between Michigan Street and State Route 47, but the opportunities never materialized.
“With (the Professional Building expansion) going up, parking will be at a premium. We’re really landlocked here. We know that going forward, in order for us to stay independent — which we want to do — we have to grow,” he added. “The board is supportive. Things change so fast in healthcare. We have the ability to expand as we need to with that land.”
A cancer center would allow area residents to get treatment without having to travel long distances.
“My mom’s a breast cancer survivor,” Dooley said. “People think that to drive a half hour for treatment is no big deal. But after chemotherapy, it is. When I look at the services we offer here and I look at the services that have been offered at other places I’ve been, (a cancer center) is one of the services we can do. If there’s something we can do to offer that closer to home, it’s something we should try to do.” But that decision is yet to be made.
“Right now, we have no concrete plans for the land,” he said.
Dooley added that if a decision is made not to develop a cancer center there, it will be back to square one to determine the healthcare organization’s next steps.
Officials won’t address whether a cancer center will be the first structure on the new land until the Oncology Solutions study is complete and they’ve had a chance to assess the study. Dooley said that, perhaps, a decision will be made by the end of the year. Even if the board does elect to create a cancer center, groundbreaking won’t be immediate. Other aspects of such a project would be considered first.
“Is this something we do on our own? Do we partner with somebody who has expertise in cancer care?” Dooley asked rhetorically.
The hospital, in a statement, listed the following as its long-term objective concerning the new property:
“Wilson Health is committed to providing all services locally that are feasible to provide here, and this location will allow necessary growth and development to accomplish that goal.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.