NORTH CANTON Akron Children’s Hospital will soon be expanding into North Canton.
Construction is expected to begin soon of the new 38,000 square-foot building at 6076 Whipple Ave. NW. The building will be adjacent to Aultman North Canton Medical Group, where Akron Children’s has a pediatrics office.
Construction of the building is expected to take a little more than a year and be completed by April 30, 2019. The hospital will directly invest $8 million in land acquisition and $5.8 million for the building shell. The hospital is also expected to make capital investments in equipment beyond the building itself.
North Canton Mayor David Held said Children’s Hospital was looking for a new home and approached the city about a year ago.
"Akron Children’s Hospital has always had a strong patient base in Stark County and has offered services in Stark at various locations," President of Akron Children’s Hospital Grace Wakulchik said. "We chose North Canton as the site to build the first of several health centers in the region because we know parents prefer to have high-quality health care close to home."
Wakulchik said Akron Children’s Hospital have had a long and collaborative partnership with Aultman and they are excited about this new project.
The three story building will house rehabilitative services including physical, occupational and speech therapy on the ground level.
The first floor will feature the North Canton office of Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics. This will be a medical home for babies, children and teens staffed by board certified pediatricians, nurse practitioners and pediatric nurses. The office will also have on-site experts in behavioral and mental health and positive parenting, these services are in great demand Wakulchik said.
The second floor will have outpatient services for pediatric specialties, such as cardiology, endocrinology, allergy/immunology, neurology, pulmonology, sports medicine, orthopedics, urology, gastroenterology, and ophthalmology.
"In 2016, Akron Children’s outpatient, ER and primary care visits by Stark County children exceeded 134,000," Wakulchik said. "We know busy parents want the highest quality health care for their children, but they also prefer to have it convenient and close to home. This new health center will consolidate service at one address with easy wayfinding and free parking."
She also said the hospital is excited to see the response from parents having pediatric doctors, nurses and therapists so accessible and close to home.
City Council approved a 10-year Industrial and Commercial Job Creation Incentive Grant Agreement between Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Akron (CHMCA) and the city on Feb. 12. The agreement states the city will return a portion of new income tax generated by the hospital. CHMCA already has a payroll of $1.56 million, exempt from the agreement. The facility is anticipated to generate an additional $2.75 million in payroll, which amounts to $41,250 being returned to the city. The first two years the full amount is expected to be returned to Akron Children’s. In years three through five, 75 percent will returned followed by 50 percent in years six through eight and finally 25 percent in years nine and 10.
At the end of the 10-year agreement, the agreement can be extended for three years if the hospital decides to expand the facility by 12,000 square-feet and add 25 more employees generating at least $1.5 million additional in payroll.
CHMCA will still have to pay property taxes because it is a for-profit business. City Administrator Patrick DeOrio said the city decided on an income tax agreement to avoid hurting the school district.
North Canton City Schools are expected to collect an addition $200,000 per year from the building.
DeOrio said this agreement is a win for Children’s, a win for the city and a win for the schools.
Councilman Doug Foltz said this deal is a win all the way around.
"This is the way we should do business in North Canton," Foltz said.
The hospital has also committed to a $250,000 contribution for the construction of a performing arts building at Dogwood Park.
Held said it is very exciting that Children’s picked North Canton.
"This is going to help us significantly develop our tax base," Held said. "When you look at the healthcare scene, we have been a gathering point."
Akron Children’s Hospital is also planning to expand more in the upcoming years.
"We plan similar centers to open in Mansfield, Boston Heights and Portage County," Wakulchik said. "As we further expand into Stark County and these other locations, we are committed to making sure our culture of family centered care follows any place you will find an Akron Children’s logo."
Wakulchik said Akron Children’s Hospital was founded in 1890 as a day nursery in downtown Akron for the children of factory workers and began with three promises: We treat every child as if they were our own; we treat others as we would want to be treated; and we will turn no child away.
"Those three promises continue to guide us 128 years later," Wakulchik said.