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Prescription for Success: Mercyhealth Javon Bea Hospital and Physician Clinic Riverside's economic impact

(WIFR)
Published: Jun. 20, 2019 at 11:05 PM CDT
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It's now been six months since the doors opened on the largest construction project in Rockford history. Mercyhealth Javon Bea Hospital Riverside and local businesses have been impacted by this historic expansion that not only benefits the east side but all of Rockford.

Six months into a half billion dollar investment Mercyhealth Javon Bea Hospital and Physician Clinic-Riverside is already seeing a return on that investment.

"You try to keep your occupancy at 85%. Hospitals today are normally 40-50% and we've been running in the high 90's. So we've been busier than we've ever anticipated,” said CEO Javon Bea.

Which means bringing on more jobs than anticipated.

"We've hired over 250 new doctors and created 735 new health care jobs nurses, etc.,” said Bea.

And according to the American Hospital Association, every health care job leads to 2.3 new jobs.

"A $500 million investment on a hospital that's a 24/7/365 operation that has people coming around the clock is going to be a major economic engine,” said Bea.

Another busy day is brewing at Meg’s Daily Grind on Perryville road.

"We have most mornings that we're just packed with people,” said Carlson.

Co-owner Megan Carlson says she sees a lot more medical professionals especially through her drive thru.

"I think with more traffic coming through we've been getting more of a visual awareness of smaller businesses from around here which is nice for us,” said Carlson.

While the folks at Meg's Daily Grind have seen a noticeable uptick in traffic since Javon Bea Riverside opened its doors, across the street on the other side of Perryville RBI restaurant leaders say there was a 75 percent increase in breakfast sales the Monday after Javon Bea Riverside opened and RBI has maintained a 5 percent weekly sales increase ever since. While the current shops and restaurants along Riverside and Perryville have already seen a positive economic impact, Loves Park Mayor Greg Jury tells 23 News the sky's the limit when it comes to construction near the Riverside campus.

"There's 600 acres up there of shovel ready lots so for the next couple of years. I expect our community development and building department to be very, very busy,” said Loves Park Mayor Greg Jury.

Construction crews are already busy with the groundbreaking of the new Siffron facility and the near completion of the Costco store.

"Some of these projects like Costco started with conversations well before Mercy was an issue, but I will tell you Costco likes the idea of being right across the street because they are going to have thousands of people in and out of there so I think that's a plus,” said Jury.

"From a real estate perspective we are thrilled that Mercy chose to come out and relocate on Riverside,” said President of Dickerson & Neiman Reators Frank Wehrstein.

Dickerson and Neiman Realtors president Frank Wehrstein says it's not just doctors buying homes that's giving the local market a pricing boost. But rather all the jobs that go along with this new development spearheaded by the new hospital.

"That's what we need. That will help stimulate and drive up the prices up in our market place.”

And Wehrstein says once that happens on the east side, all of Rockford will benefit.

"If the East Side prices get to a certain point that will make other people check for other alternatives throughout our city and they'll be more discerning in their decision and relocate all over our area,” said Wehrstein.

A major impact kick started by a major investment.

"When they see someone invested $500 million in a hospital and it's a regional draw area and we're bringing tens of thousands of patients and tens of thousands of visitors obviously that becomes success breeds success,” said Bea.

A lot of the Mercyhealth revenue is new to the area. In fact Bea says they originally projected $30 million a year in Wisconsin patient revenue but they now see bringing in more than $100 million a year from Wisconsin patients.