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The Surgi Sound Off blog is an open forum for ambulatory surgery center professionals to share personal insight and expertise within the ASC community. These columns also appear in our weekly subscription-based enewsletter. Please note that the opinions of our bloggers may not always reflect SurgiStrategies' position.

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ASC Site Selection: Environmental Hazards?


Recently I read about a story about a New York medical group's plans to excavate land to build an outpatient surgery center. The detail I found most interesting was the site selection – the property was previously occupied by a gas station which had experienced a petroleum leak underground.

New York state's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has a Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) designed to ease redevelopment and reuse of areas impacted by contaminants. The program defines "contamination" as the presence or potential presence "of a hazardous waste or petroleum in any environmental media, including soil, surface water, groundwater, air, soil vapor or indoor air." In this case, DEC test results revealed "elevated levels of petroleum hydrocarbons in soil and ground water" – as well as other concerns under review. The Buffalo & Erie County Central Library has DEC reference materials on file for interested parties to review.

The DEC announced that it has received a BCP app for the project and is currently accepting public comments on it. The new seven-story medical office building intended to house the ASC is estimated to be an $80 million project, all part of a burgeoning Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The development company is anticipated to dig 40 feet underground in an effort to clear the tainted soil, making way for four levels of parking beneath the new building. Public transportation already accommodates a Metro Rail stop nearby that could also be tied in with the parking development.

Interestingly enough, the involved hospital's parent company Kaleida Health, also considered putting the ASC in another nearby location that was not facing an environmental cleanup. However, neighbors were unsupportive of that plan. As such, the revised agenda includes an optimistic open date of late 2013.

We all know the importance of a good business location. I'm wondering at what point, though, investors decide to take on an environmental cleanup versus a neighborhood that's resistant to healthcare development – particularly when development of some sort is inevitable? And will public trust continue to be a factor anyway when developing land that's already known to be contaminated? (Not to mention the intended facility is focused on women and children.) Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Karen Butler ( ) is Editor in Chief of SurgiStrategies.


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