December 10, 2010

Children's Mercy East Clinc Brings Care to Independence

Kansas City Business Journal - Justin Hilley

Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics is nearly finished designing Children’s Mercy East, an outpatient pediatric clinic that will be built in the 90-acre Trinity Woods development at Interstate 70 and Little Blue Parkway in Independence.
Children’s Mercy East is expected to break ground in April and open in late summer 2012, said Jo Stueve, Children’s Mercy’s executive vice president and co-COO.

The hospital is accepting construction bids at the beginning of 2011.
The new 55,000-square-foot Children’s Mercy East will open with an urgent-care facility, specialty clinics, and radiology labs and services. Stueve said it is too early to estimate how many jobs it will bring to Children’s Mercy.
Children’s Mercy added 20,000 square feet of shelled space to the clinic’s original design, which will be used for future growth, expanding its original $16 million budget to $20 million.
The project is part of a larger $800 million expansion that Children’s Mercy unveiled in 2007. The expansion was suspended in April 2009 because of financing difficulties but restarted in November 2009 after Children’s Mercy issued nearly $181 million in bonds.
The clinic, which is almost 20 miles from the main hospital in Downtown, will allow families in Independence who need to see a pediatric specialist such as a cardiologist or endocrinologist to remain in the area.
“We have a facility in south Kansas City, we have one in the Northland, we have a facility in Wyandotte County in the west, and so now we’re adding this facility in the east. It’s going to provide convenience and accessibility for families,” Stueve said.
Tom Lesnak, president of the Independence EDC, said he sees Children’s Mercy’s “world-renowned pediatric care” as a marketing tool to increase residential growth in Eastern Jackson County because “people want to live where there’s access to incredible health for their kids.”
The area’s restaurants probably will see a boost in business, but its hotels will probably see no — at least initial — effect because of Children’s Mercy East’s mission as an outpatient clinic as opposed to an overnight inpatient hospital. A Corner Café already is open for business in Trinity Woods, and a 180-room Drury Inn & Suites is scheduled to open in the summer.
Construction of Children’s Mercy East in conjunction with the Nov. 12, 2011, opening of a $60 million eight-mile expressway extending from U.S. Highway 40 through I-70 to U.S. Highway 24 will help open 32 square miles of land in the Little Blue Valley to development, said Rick Hemmingsen, president of the Independence Chamber of Commerce. He said that 15,000 new homes are expected to be built in the area during the next 20 to 30 years.
“One of the strongest employment growth sectors is health care right now, so from our standpoint, it’s great for our community. It’s going to put a lot of people to work here in Eastern Jackson County,” Hemmingsen said.
Lesnak said the clinic will provide new opportunities for people who are transitioning from blue-collar employment to health care.
“A lot of people are going through health care training, nursing training right now preparing for a new type of career — kind of a change in their lives — so it’s nice to have the outlet to be able to support those people making those transitions,” he said.
Jim Harpool, director of new development at MD Management, the company developing Trinity Woods, said Children’s Mercy East is another crucial component of Eastern Jackson County.
“There’s a lot of people on the east side who have worked for a long time to get Children’s Mercy out there and be able to provide care for children on that side of town,” Harpool said. “It’s another step forward for that whole I-70/Little Blue Parkway corridor and interchange.”