Healthcare: Mercy opens $2M outpatient facility in former Food City in South Knoxville

By Carly Harrington for Knox News

Mercy Health Partners opens today a new $2 million medical office and diagnostic center in a former Food City store in South Knoxville.

The 37,000-square-foot outpatient facility, Mercy Ambulatory Care Center South, will be what officials are calling “a one-stop destination” for area residents who lost some health care services when Mercy closed its Blount Avenue hospital overlooking Fort Loudon Lake nearly three years ago.

Mercy South is opening this week with an office for physician specialists and an imaging center. Over the next two months, a sleep center, hormone replacement clinic and primary care physicians offices will open.

“Some services that might not have been as readily available are going to be available here,” Mercy President and CEO Jeff Ashin said.

Once the new center is fully operational, services will no longer be provided at Mercy Riverside, where Mercy has maintained an outpatient facility on the site of the former Baptist Hospital of East Tennessee since the hospital closed in 2008. Offices will remain in the Baptist Professional Building on Blount Avenue.

In April, the health system hired commercial real estate giant CB Richard Ellis and local real estate firm Lawler-Wood to market the 22.9 acre Blount Avenue site, which has 535,000 square feet of building space. Mercy has had some conversations regarding the sale of the property, Ashin said.

“We’re engaged in some in-depth conversations with some parties. Hopefully something will come to fruition,” Ashin said.

On a tour Monday, Mercy officials touted the new South Knoxville facility’s accessibility in a bustling spot off Chapman Highway across from Walmart. There’s free parking and a CVS Pharmacy next door.

“We’re really proud we’re able to use an existing building in the community and rehab it to meet our specific needs,” Ashin said.

A 4,000-square-foot plaza area with new skylights and plant-filled islands greets patients as they enter the new facility. Medical suites are along both sides that give it the feel of what one hospital official called “a medical mall.”

The imaging center, which has a separate side for female patients, will provide CT (computed tomography) scanning, X-ray, ultrasound, mammography, bone density and lab services. There’s a pre-admissions office where patients can be tested before heading to the hospital.

“One of the great things about having physicians across the hall is they can send their patients over. It’s very convenient,” said Melanie Robinson, director of business development for Mercy.

The response from physicians has been “excellent,” Robinson said, with most already booked through February. More than 20 specialists have signed on and will share three offices.

The facility also has 7,000 square feet of expansion space, “so if we find services that are really needed we have the capability to expand over time,” Robinson said.

Mercy will celebrate its grand opening with an open house and community health fair on Jan. 22.

[knoxnews.com]

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