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News Room: ENQUIRER: Commonwealth Ortho, St. Elizabeth to share new Florence space

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By: Mark Hansel

St. Elizabeth Physicians and Commonwealth Orthopaedic Centers will share space in a new medical office building in Florence that is scheduled to open this summer.

The 51,000-square-foot office building is under construction on the site formerly occupied by Natorp’s at the intersection of U.S. 42 and Old Union Road.

Jacob Bast, chief operating officer for St. Elizabeth Physicians, said the facility will provide increased treatment options to a part of Northern Kentucky that continues to experience strong residential growth.

“The impetus for this is that it allows us to bring a larger base of primary care physicians to southern Boone County and the Florence and Union areas,” Bast said. “Our current facility can house up to seven primary care physicians, and the new facility will be able to house up to 10 at any given time.”

St. Elizabeth will relocate six physicians from its primary care facility in Union, just south of the new office, and will recruit additional doctors as well.

The St. Elizabeth Urgent Care location at U.S. 42 and Hopeful Church Road will also move into the new facility. St. Elizabeth will occupy 16,000 square feet on the first floor of the three-story facility.

The remaining two floors will be occupied by Commonwealth Orthopaedic Centers.

This is the first time St. Elizabeth Physicians and Commonwealth Orthopaedic Centers will share space.

Bast said the decision to share space was made to accommodate patients and does not represent a strengthening of the business relationship between the two companies.

“It is not any sort of merger or acquisition arrangement,” Bast said. “Commonwealth is a good partner with St. Elizabeth, and we are happy to be able to share the space with them for the convenience of our patients and to bring these new services to southern Boone County.”

Commonwealth Orthopaedic Centers will provide many services that are also available at facilities within the St. Elizabeth Healthcare network and St. Elizabeth Physicians will refer patients to Commonwealth for treatment.

Commonwealth wanted to open an office in the area and Bast said St. Elizabeth did not feel the need to open a similar facility just to compete.

“One of our values all along has been to be a good community partner and provide very good access to primary care and specialty services and this demonstrates our continued commitment to serving our patients close to home,” Bast said.

The parking lot at the new facility will be tiered so patients can have access to the Commonwealth Orthopaedic office from the rear of the building on the ground floor.

JoAnn Reis, chief executive officer of Commonwealth Orthopaedic Centers, said that was a critical design element.

“We were looking at a building in a different location on U.S. 42, but it was limited in space,” Reis said. “With so many of our patients coming in on crutches and wheelchairs we had to have a first-floor entrance. We also have quite a few patients coming in on stretchers, and it’s just too hard to get patients in and out of elevators.”

While St. Elizabeth is a household name in Northern Kentucky, Reis said Commonwealth Orthopaedic would like to improve its name recognition.

“We know that unless someone is utilizing our services, there is a good chance they may not know who we are and we would like to change that,” Reis said. “This group came together in 2003 to serve Northern Kentucky, and our goal is to be a one-stop shop for everyone in the area.”

Commonwealth Orthopaedic is a private practice group with five offices in Northern Kentucky and 19 specialists.

Commonwealth also offers several sub-specialties, including spine care, as well as primary care sports medicine and podiatry.

It provides physical therapy services at its Southgate location and at Edgewood, which also offers MRI services and has an After Hours Injury Clinic to accommodate urgent needs.

Commonwealth’s facilities are located in close proximity to St. Elizabeth facilities and most of its surgeries are performed at St. Elizabeth hospitals or its outpatient surgery centers.

Reis said the heath care company has been looking to expand into the Florence/Union area for the same reasons St. Elizabeth finds it attractive.

“This location has been on our design plans for two years,” Reis said. “We looked at where the population growth was in the Northern Kentucky area and where is the next place we need to be and that was near Union.”

Commonwealth Orthopaedic will have space for eight providers and will also offer physical therapy at the new office.

The facilities are scheduled to open simultaneously and a date has not yet been set, but if the weather cooperates, construction is expected to be completed in late August.

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