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Pre-Construction Considerations for New ASCs While location is critical, so are access, visibility and zoning BY ROBERT KURTZ


I


f you are planning to build a new ASC, do not rush to get a shovel into the ground.


“The pre-construction phase is a


definitive component in the develop- ment of a new center,” says Ronald Blair, founder of Surgery Center Ser- vices of America in Mesa, Arizona. “It serves as the launching pad for the proj- ect and provides a solid foundation for your ASC.” To best set their new ASC up for success, the owners of King of Prus- sia Surgery Center in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, which officially opened in June 2020, spent significant time on market research, says Colleen O’Brien, the center’s executive director. “They eventually chose King of Prussia because of its central location within the vibrant Philadelphia regional healthcare market, its projected population growth and its thriving retail destinations. King of Prussia also connects with many major highways in the region, making it convenient for patients, physicians and staff who live north, south, east and west of the ASC to come here.” While location is critical, access can be just as important, Blair says. “Are people going to be able to enter and leave the surgery center location easily? A busy intersection can create confu- sion and make an already stressful situ- ation more tense.”


This does not mean a new ASC will be better served in an area with little traffic, says Matthew Krause, direc- tor of project management for Surgery Center Services of America. “There is a delicate balance between wanting to avoid busy interactions and wanting your facility to be visible. For example, we were working on a project that had a beautiful lot come up close to a Costco. That was a double-edged sword. There would be heavy traffic at times, but the


Costco drew regionally and would be a great landmark for anyone not very familiar with the area.”


As you research lots, consider more than just the size and accessi- bility of your building. “Our owners made sure the location would allow for ample parking to support our expected growth,” O’Brien says.


When looking to build from the ground up, what you cannot see might impact your project. “You must ensure the zoning assigned to the property is appropriate for an ASC,” Blair says. He also advises ASCs to arrange for a phase one environmental study to determine if a property has ever been contaminated and have a site engi- neer look at the property to determine drainage requirements.


Always obtain a preliminary title report for the property to check for easements or encroachments, Krause advises. “The last thing you want to do is buy a property and then find out later that high-tension electrical lines must go above or through your property.”


32 ASC FOCUS JUNE/JULY 2021 | ascfocus.org


The less work required to prepare a lot for your ASC, the less expensive and difficult the project will be, Blair says. For example, it is advantageous if utilities already run to the prop- erty. “The most important of which are the ability to get power to the site and having a water main of sufficient diameter to support a fire sprinkler system,” he says.


O’Brien says that careful selection of the King of Prussia Surgery Center’s engineer,


architect and construction


firm was essential to ensuring the ASC met or exceeded state guidelines. “The people our owners worked with had experience with building other ASCs and medical facilities in the area.” That kind of experience can help


save significant money and time, Krause says. “The most common thing I hear from physicians when we start a project is, ‘I never thought of that.’ You must understand the nuts and bolts of the whole process or you risk going in the wrong direction quickly.”


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