BELPRE - The new Marietta Memorial Hospital Health Bridge Medical Park expansion on Farson Street has lured several physicians from across the river.
At least four physicians have moved their offices from Parkersburg to the new $12 million expansion of the Health Bridge Medical Park.
"They are not leaving Camden Clark Medical Center," said Greg Smith, Camden Clark Medical Center marketing director. "They all had private practices in the Parkersburg area and have chosen to close those for Marietta Memorial."
While the doctors have closed their West Virginia practices, they have chosen to maintain their privileges at CCMC, Smith said.
"The bottom line is that some physicians have left for the other side of the river but will still be able to practice at our hospitals," he said.
Dr. Dorai Rajan has opened a family practice, Dr. Kelli Crawley has come with an endocrinology and oncology office, while Dr. Curtis White has opened an obstetrics and gynecology practice and Dr. Gary Tucker is expected to move his family practice from Parkersburg next month.
The expansion includes a 50,000-square-foot two-story building addition to the medical plaza that will house urgent care facilities, an expansion of the current Strecker Cancer Center and physicians' offices, according to Jennifer Offenberger, director of marketing and public relations for Memorial Health System, which includes both Selby and MMH.
The facility is opening in stages as doctors' offices begin accepting patients, she said.
Although it has not been announced, Smith said he suspects the physicians moving to the Belpre facility have joined the Marietta Memorial physicians organization to be paid by the hospital.
"Also, by closing their West Virginia offices, they don't have to pay business and occupation tax," Smith said.
In November 2010 Memorial announced the $12 million expansion and broke ground for the facility later that month. In spite of some delay due to spring rains this year, construction has remained on schedule.
Smith said that while CCMC will not notice a difference in the physicians moving from Wood County, the patients will.
"The community will notice that these physicians have left and their services may not be available to them," he said. "Many patient in the Parkersburg area are on state-funded insurance that the doctors in Ohio do not take and the patients will have to find someone else.
"Some patients, I'm sure, will follow them to Belpre, but others will not be able to," Smith said.
Offenberger said the hospital chose to expand the Belpre services because there is a need in that area of the county and the hospital and its affiliated doctors want to help as many people as possible.
The decision to build a larger cancer center is because the current Belpre facility grows by about 400 new patients each year and the need continues to increase.
There is expected to be at least 80 to 100 people employed at the new site, including new jobs as well as existing physicians' staff.