MARION — The staff of Heartland Regional Medical Center hosted a virtual groundbreaking earlier this month on a new medical office building with a small crowd gathered in person on the hospital campus. Construction will begin Nov. 16, and the building should be ready for patients by late summer or fall 2021.
The new 16,000-square-foot building will be located east of the main hospital and medical office building. It will house orthopedics, family practice and imaging. The project also includes expanding parking on the hospital campus.
Heartland CEO Ed Cunningham said having those services in one place will be more convenient for both patients and staff. Patients will not have to go to another building to get from one department to another.
“As our population ages, it felt very important to put this building together,” Cunningham said, adding that the single-story building will be very accessible.
The imaging center will offer CT, MRI, mammography and bone density testing, in addition to traditional radiology.
Glenn Clarida, chairman of the hospital board of trustees, joked that he was asked to talk about the history of the hospital because he is the oldest member of the board.
The city opened Marion Memorial Hospital in 1953, he said. The city sold the hospital around 2000 to Community Health Services. A new hospital building was opened in 2002 as Heartland Regional Medical Center. In 2012, an addition opened that added ICU rooms to HRMC. The new medical building will be the first addition to the hospital campus since 2012.
Dr. Richard Morgan, medical director of orthopedic services at HRMC, talked about the importance of having quality healthcare in the city of Marion. His father, a family practice physician, helped bring the hospital to Marion in 1953. Before the hospital opened, residents had to travel to Carbondale or Herrin if they needed treatment outside their local doctor’s office.
“Marion deserves its own quality health care facility, and I’m proud to be a part of that,” he said.
Morgan also talked about the importance of relationships when working in health care in your hometown. He said it builds trust in the doctor-patient relationship when you live in the place you practice. He said it builds faith and trust, which results in greater compliance in his patients.
“Exciting things are happening in Marion,” Mayor Mike Absher said.
He told those gathered at the hospital and attending virtually that health care comes up in every discussion the city has with companies interested in locating businesses in Marion. Companies also want to know about schools, affordable housing, workforce and training opportunities and sustainability.
“Health care always gets mentioned, and usually first. Health care is an integral component to economic development,” Absher said.
He said businesses are looking ahead 20 or 30 years, and how sustainable they can be in a community. One part of that is availability of health care, especially as trends move toward caring for aging parents at home. Absher pointed to Cunningham, whose 90-year-old father lives with him, as an example of that. Having quality medical care adds to both employee satisfaction and productivity, he said.
The city of Marion sees that trend in home sales as well. People like Cuningham are looking for single-story homes that are accessible to older people with mobility issues.
“It’s truly a differentiating factor,” Absher said.
“I look forward to inviting you back in fall of 2021 or late summer to celebrate the opening of this building,” Cunningham said to the small group hospital board members and local dignitaries.
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