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Hospitals prepare for influx as others weigh options


Hospitals are creating more spaces for patients as medical professionals prepare to deal with an influx of new customers, American Medical News reported.

Though most experts concur that additional outpatient medical offices will be needed as health care reform in implemented, there is disagreement about whether the majority of new spaces will be constructed or a significant amount will come from the conversion of existing buildings.

“Ambulatory care is more and more important,” said Melanie Robinson, director of business development with Mercy Health Partners. The medical provider recently opened a 37,000-square-foot outpatient facility with physician offices, imaging services and a sleep center in a former grocery store in Knoxville, Tenn.

“We want patients to feel like they are in a nice, safe and leading-edge medical environment, rather than in aisle three,” she said. “We are doing our research now to determine where we will build next.”

Some analysts said the retail outlets and commercial offices that were vacated during the recession could be converted into medical office space as the credit crunch eases and investors consider the relative stability of the commercial real estate industry’s medical office building sector.

But not all medical office users are moving at the same pace.

“Hospitals are moving forward with their plans to prepare for an increased demand for health care,” said Paul Heiserman, a senior associate with the health care services group at Colliers International in Columbus, Ohio. “Physicians have more of a watch-and-wait attitude and want to see exactly what happens. Small practices are being a little more conservative.”

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