Mercy shifts 110 jobs to Tide Point, steps up expansion

More operating rooms planned downtown

gift of $5 million received

September 26, 2002|By M. William Salganik | M. William Salganik,SUN STAFF

Mercy Health Services said yesterday that it will move 110 jobs from White Marsh and Catonsville to a new center at the Tide Point development in Locust Point as part of its continuing expansion.

Mercy also announced a second phase of development at its downtown Mercy Medical Center campus, adding operating rooms to a building under construction and expanding its orthopedic program to help keep the new operating rooms busy.

Also, Mercy said it had received a $5 million pledge from Mary Catherine Bunting of Ruxton - a former Sister of Mercy who worked as a pediatric nurse practitioner at the hospital for about 20 years - for pastoral care. She is the daughter of the founder of Noxell Corp., which was sold to Procter & Gamble Co. in 1989 for $1.4 billion.

It is the largest gift the hospital has received from an individual, although it got $10 million from the Weinberg Foundation for its downtown expansion. Mercy unveiled a $40 million capital campaign, and said it already had $32 million pledged, including the Weinberg and Bunting gifts.

Finally, Mercy announced an expansion for its Mercy Ridge senior living complex and extensive renovations at its Stella Maris nursing home. Mercy Ridge and Stella Maris share a campus in Timonium.

The latest developments mark the second and final phase of a $118 million expansion announced last fall. In all, the health system expects the expansion to generate 500 jobs.

Success in raising funds and better-than-expected financial performance has allowed the $42 million second phase to be advanced by a year, said Thomas R. Mullen, president and chief executive officer.

Mullen said Mercy Health Services, the parent for the downtown hospital and the other health-related enterprises, had an operating profit of $5.6 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30, on $260 million of revenue. That compared with $4.6 million the previous year.

The 25,000-square-foot Mercy "information technology center" that will open at Tide Point consolidates administrative support, billing, accounting and information systems departments. In addition to the workers from White Marsh and Catonsville, an additional 30 will move from Mercy's downtown campus, creating more clinical space there.

With the Mercy lease, Tide Point is "virtually 100 percent leased," said Joshua Neiman, development director for Streuver Bros. Eccles & Rouse Inc., the developer.

Neiman said the project originally was aimed primarily at high-tech businesses. Despite the bursting of the dot-com bubble, Tide Point houses technology businesses such as e.magination Networks LLC, Blue Sky Factory Inc. and Advertising.com. But it has also become home to other types of businesses, including a law firm, architects, financial services companies and Streuver Bros. itself.

"As a landlord, I am thrilled with the tenant mix I have," Neiman said.

On the downtown campus, Mercy will add five operating rooms to the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building, which is under construction. The first phase of the development had left two floors of the building unfinished. It will also renovate the operating rooms in the main hospital, turning the current 18 into 16 larger ones.

Mullen said operating room use at Mercy has increased nearly 20 percent in the past three years and is expected to grow further over the next three.

An expanded orthopedic specialty hospital program at Mercy will contribute about 40 percent of that growth, said Samuel E. Moskowitz, executive vice president for corporate strategy and development.

To boost the program, Mercy has recruited two high-profile surgeons from other city hospitals, Dr. Charles C. Edwards, a spine specialist from University of Maryland Medical Center, and Dr. Mark S. Myerson, a foot and ankle surgeon from Union Memorial Hospital.

"In these tough economic times, you've got to have a diversified revenue stream," with paying patients allowing the hospital to provide charity care, Mullen said. He said the hospital would "focus on niches that fit for Mercy - orthopedics, cancer and women's programs."

At the Timonium campus, a $38 million expansion will add 149 senior housing and 17 assisted-living units to Mercy Ridge, and $8 million in renovations will update about half the 448 rooms at Stella Maris.

Sun staff writer Stacey Hirsh contributed to this article.

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