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Marietta Memorial to expand in Belpre

BELPRE – Area patients will soon have a place to learn how to take better care of themselves, an official with Memorial Health System told the Belpre Chamber of Commerce Thursday.

Jennifer Offenberger, director of marketing for the Memorial Health System, announced the construction of a $10 million educational building on Memorial Health System’s Belpre Campus during the Belpre Chamber of Commerce’s Business Luncheon.

Ground is expected to be broken soon on the 25,000-square-foot facility and it is expected to be completed in late fall, Offenberger said.

“Our work in the community is growing,” she said. “We continue to expand that campus. It is really exciting to see what is happening.”

With changes happening in health care and the continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Offenberger said, more focus is being put on preventive measures.

“We know we can’t just focus on treating people when they are ill; we need to also focus on prevention and wellness,” she said. “It is something we have done for many years within our organization.”

The new building will have a kitchen and space for a wide range of wellness initiatives and programs where people can meet one-on-one with health care providers.

“We are still working on the whole program,” Offenberger said. “The purpose of this is we want to encourage people to do more preventive measures and taking care of yourself earlier before you get sick or have a disease happen to you.”

That includes learning how to cook more healthy meals for yourself or cooking with special dietary requirements if you are facing an illness or other health concern, she said.

“We are trying to build a center where people can come and have more education and training … learn how to cook properly, do hands-on learning, get education one-on-one with a pharmacist to understand their medications and understand how they can take better care of themselves,” she added.

Over the last year, the Memorial Health System has brought in 15 providers.

The Health System has been bringing in specialists, including a gastroenterologist for patients with Crohn’s and other digestive issues.

“We are adding additional surgeons and emergency department physicians as we expand,” Offenberger said. “Bringing those kinds of physicians here to ensure we give timely care is really important to us.”

Some services are being moved from the Memorial campus in Marietta to the Belpre campus, including an endoscopy suite and the sleep lab.

Moving these services from the Marietta campus helps free up space at the hospital and gives patients easier access to these services at the Belpre campus.

“It is looking at how we can make services more convenient and in a centralized area of our region,” Offenberger said. “It is about moving services that don’t necessarily need to be in a hospital.”

By moving those services out of the hospital, space is freed up to allow other service to grow and new services to be brought in, she said.

It has been almost a year since the free-standing emergency department opened on the Belpre campus.

“It has far exceeded our expectations for care in this community,” Offenberger said. “We are seeing a higher number of people than we ever imagined we would.”

All of Memorial Health Services emergency departments in the local area had over 60,000 visits last year.

“The Belpre campus has been phenomenal,” Offenberger said.

Camden Clark Medical Center President and CEO David McClure, who attended the luncheon, commended Memorial for all it has accomplished. He said the competition between the two health systems pushes everyone to provide the best health care service for residents throughout the region.

“We challenge each other,” McClure said.

Both organizations are continually bringing in new treatment options and doctors to provide those services.

“No one should have to leave the Mid-Ohio Valley for care,” McClure said.