Children’s Hospital center to open July 13

Published 10:21 am Monday, July 6, 2009

IRONTON — Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s much-anticipated expansion into Ironton has been set for July 13.

Officials from the Columbus-based hospital announced today the opening date of their 14th ChildLab clinic statewide. The new facility will be located at 407 S. Third St., Suite B in Ironton.

ChildLab clinics are pediatric reference laboratories that allow lab tests to be conducted for patients not only in the Children’s Hospital system, but a variety of health care centers and hospitals. They offer specialized care for all children, newborns through young adults.

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Monday’s announcement also confirmed the Ironton ChildLab clinic will be contained in an expanded Close To Home Center located in the same building. The hospital said the Close To Home Center will be able to provide pediatric surgery, neurology and urology specialty services with three separate clinics.

The pediatric surgery clinic will offer surgery consultation and post-surgical follow-up care. The neurology clinic will provide services in subspecialty evaluations and care for children who have neurological disorders affecting the central nervous system, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. The urology clinic will offer comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic services for children with diseases of the genitourinary tract.

The announcement of the expanded Close To Home Center in addition to the ChildLab clinic represents a recent 180-degree turn for Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Since word of the expansion became public, representatives from Nationwide had consistently said their Ironton development was going to be a ChildLab center only.

Even as recently as late May, several high-ranking hospital officials told The Tribune, the growth was going to be limited to only a ChildLab center and not the expanded Close To Home center.

The hospital did not set opening dates for the three specialty clinics.

The Close To Home Center will be the hospital’s eighth center and second, along with Newark, outside of the greater Columbus area. The others include Dublin, East Central Columbus, East Columbus, Gahanna, Hilliard and Westerville.

News of the hospital’s expansion into Ironton gained momentum on May 11 when two help-wanted ads for a laboratory technician and a part-time phlebotomist surfaced on various Web site job boards.

At the time, the hospital would only say the postings were placed to see if there would be interest in the community.

City and county officials were also very mum on the expansion with many claiming not to know about it or declining comment. However, Monday, community leaders were looking forward to Nationwide setting up shop in Ironton.

“The City of Ironton welcomes Nationwide Children’s Hospital to our community,” said Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship. “We feel this will greatly benefit parents and children of Ironton and Lawrence County. We look forward to the anticipated benefits of their services and offer our full support.”

“We in Lawrence County are proud to be a supporter of Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” said Lawrence County Commissioner Les Boggs. “Focusing on pediatric health helps influence a happier and healthier adult life. Financially, it will help people to have these services be part of our community.”

“As a provider for children’s primary health care needs in Lawrence County, we at the Family Medical Centers know how difficult it is to get specialty care for our children when the need arises,” said D.R. Gossett, CEO of Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization. “Having Nationwide Children’s Ironton Close To Home will give us a tremendous resource in caring for our patients. Nationwide Children’s reputation for cutting edge care and overall excellence is unexcelled.”

“It is my understanding that Nationwide Children’s Hospital is rated as one of the country’s top ten pediatric hospitals,” said Bill Dickens, Ironton’s economic director. “I think I can speak for the greater Ironton community in saying ‘welcome to our city.’”

This is not the hospital’s first entry into the Tri-State health care market. Since 2007, the Heart Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital has also provided outpatient pediatric cardiology services at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Russell, Ky.

With more than 950 medical staff members and 6,000 employees, Nationwide Children’s Hospital has been ranked as one the best hospitals in the United States by both U.S. News & World Report and Child Magazine under the categories of both “Best Hospital” and “Emergency Services.

The hospital is also the pediatric teaching hospital for The Ohio State University School of Medicine.