OhioHealth will soon continue construction on a new medical office building near O'Bleness Memorial hospital after a delay due to COVID-19

The new two story, 30,000 square foot building is meant to expand the hospital campus and will house the OhioHealth Physician Group Heritage College primary care practices and an expanded family practice residency. The project is expected to cost $11.3 million dollars. 

The project was initially set to be completed in the fall, but construction was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to resume in July, Keely Stockwell, a marketing and communications manager at O’Bleness, said. 

The expansion is meant for patient convenience, Mark Seckinger, O’Bleness president, said in a press release.

“The expanded campus will help our patients navigate through primary and specialty services and benefit from the convenience of having lab, imaging and pharmacy services located within walking distance of their physician offices,” Seckinger said in a press release.

OhioHealth has spent nearly $30 million dollars on various projects in the region, including a new cancer care and radiation oncology facility near the Castrop Health Center and an intensive care unit at O’Blenness. 

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said the addition of the new building will not necessarily bring new jobs to the region right now, but he is still excited for the development.

“It's always great to see development taking place on the West Union corridor,” Patterson said. “It's certainly within the comprehensive plan. We see that as a corridor for continued growth. As I understand it, there is also on that site, the ability for them to expand to a second 30,000 square foot office space, which tells me that they do have the ability to grow in the future.”

Patterson said it would be great for both Athens and the surrounding region if the city became a healthcare hub for Southeastern Ohio.

“Athens County, Vinton County, some of the surrounding counties, we're still among the top when it comes to poverty, when it comes to a number of other indicators, and along with that comes great need for accessible health care,” Patterson said. “OhioHealth has been working diligently in that area.”

With accessible healthcare in mind, Patterson said he feels like Athens and the surrounding region are especially well-suited to see an increase in telehealth, something that may not have been recognized without the COVID-19 pandemic.