Kettering Health wants to add hospital beds to Middletown medical center

Kettering Health Network is once again seeking approval to treat patients overnight in Middletown, which would ramp up competition at the foot of a rival hospital.

Kettering Health opened a new medical center in Middletown in August less than a mile from Premier Health’s Atrium Medical Center, but for now the facility only has outpatient services.

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The city planning commission denied a previous request from Kettering to have inpatient beds at the medical center. In the days leading up to the September 2017 decision, leaders from both hospitals sent a flurry of emails to the city, with each health network working to sway Middletown officials to their stance.

Now, Kettering Health Network has reapplied to the Middletown Planning Commission for a zoning change to provide an expanded scope of hospital services, including overnight stays.

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According to city documents, the September 2017 rezoning request had been denied “due to believing the zone change will have a future negative effect on surrounding properties.”

Inpatient beds were not part of the original proposal for the medical center, reviewed by the city in May 2017. At a September 2017 planning commission meeting about rezoning to allow inpatient beds, Kettering officials told the planning commission that the idea for expanded and overnight services had evolved as the Middletown project began just off.

At the September 2017 meeting, Premier Health and Atrium officials as well as a number of supportive residents put full pressure on the Planning Commission to deny the request. They also included a warning of “a number of unintended consequences” if the request was approved.

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Premier Health and Atrium officials cited a $300 million investment made as well as its 100 years of commitment to the city as part of its objection to the Kettering project. They also noted that in previous master and comprehensive plans, Atrium would anchor a high-tech and health care corridor along I-75 and other businesses would be diversified and complimentary to the hospital.

Shortly after the 2017 planning commission’s decision, Kettering withdrew its request before it went to Middletown City Council for consideration.

Premier’s position has not changed since Kettering’s first request for inpatient beds.

“Just as the City of Middletown’s planning commission recommended against similar rezoning requests last year, we oppose any action paving the way for duplicative services that would put at risk Atrium’s comprehensive spectrum of health care for our community,” Ben Sutherly, Premier Health’s spokesman, said.

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City Planner Ashley Combs said that there’s nothing in the city’s ordinances and current development and zoning codes that prevent having two hospital facilities.

Kettering Health said in its request that patients at the medical center, which includes an emergency center, sometimes need more involved medical treatment or need to stay longer than 24-hours.

“Under a variety of circumstances, the health care of patients should not be limited to a restrictive zoning classification, when the proposed change in zoning would allow for not only compliance with a variety of the City’s adopted plans but also the real life needs of its citizens and larger community,” Kettering Health stated.

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Kettering Health said in its request that the rezoning of this property would not harm surrounding properties and “rather such rezoning would allow for comprehensive medical care in addition to providing inpatient medical/surgical care for the sick or injured citizens of Middletown and the surrounding areas.”

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