COLUMBUS, Ohio — Just like the famous line from the movie, “Field of Dreams,” goes, “If you build it, they will come.”
Co-leaders of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center inpatient hospital anticipate they will be able to meet the medical needs of Central Ohio and beyond: from the Ohio River all the way to Mansfield and as far west as Springfield.
The massive 1.9 million-square-foot inpatient hospital project is the largest single facilities project ever undertaken at Ohio State. Planning started in 2016, and now, in 2022, the reality of a predicted need is because of a booming population.
The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) estimated that the population in the 15 central Ohio counties was about 2.37 million in 2018. Researchers projected region would exceed 3 million by the year 2050.
Women's and children's units will make up the top three floors, including a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in connection with Nationwide Children's Hospital.
The evolution may exemplify "time and change" when you consider that The James Cancer Hospital, which opened in 2014, construction of this magnitude dates back decades. There is an expansion of The James built into the project with a pavilion that connects it to the new hospital.
The inpatient facility is being built on the predicted need, and leaders will have to address the present need for staffing.
Rick Lucas, who is the president of the Ohio Nurses Association, which represents the nurses at Ohio State, said filling current openings is a problem. “There needs to be a much more aggressive strategy to recruit staff and not just recruit staff but to retain staff because once they are hired in, we're seeing a lot of turnover,” Lucas said.
Chief Operating Officer Jay Anderson said Wexner is not immune to problems playing out here and across the country, and they're committed to having the workforce open fully in 2025.
"It's been a challenge, but from what we've seen, applications are now up,” Anderson said. “We're seeing momentum in the healthcare workforce, so we're confident that three years from now we'll be in a good place.”