Hamilton Co. accepts donation of Mercy Mount Airy campus

The Hamilton County Coroner's Office on Eden Avenue
The Hamilton County Coroner's Office on Eden Avenue

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Hamilton County commissioners on Wednesday voted 3-0 to accept Mercy Health's donation of its Mount Airy campus.

The decision will allow the county's coroner's office/crime lab to move to the new location. The coroner's office/crime lab is currently located on Eden Avenue in Corryville near the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

The lab is 41 years old, it's outdated and crowded which could jeopardize the integrity of the work done here that's why the county coroner is so anxious to move.

"I can go get a shovel tomorrow and start. We have sledgehammers that we can use. Everybody in my office is ready to go," Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco said.

The coroner said she was elated when county commissioners voted to accept the Mercy Airy campus as a gift from Catholic Health Partners. Sammarco said all she had to do was ask.

"I had lunch and a discussion with Mike Connelly of Catholic Health Partners and his wife. And I explained some of the woes of the crime lab. And he said 'so you need a new crime lab?' And I said 'yes' and he said 'well I've got a couple of old hospitals. Will an old hospital do?'"

That was a year ago and Sammarco said a lot of work was involved.

"It's been a very frustrating course and you know for a while there it seemed like it was getting derailed with the board of elections but the important thing is a year later we are now looking forward to moving the crime lab to this facility and doing other things with that facility as well," she said.

The Hamilton County Board of Elections voted 2-2 Monday to move to the Mount Airy campus from its current location on Broadway Street downtown. The issue remains unresolved as Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who would cast the deciding vote, has urged both sides to compromise.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil said he hopes to move some of his offices to the new site.

"We have an opportunity to consolidate services in Hamilton County," he said.

Moving the county crime lab from its present location in Corryville is at least a year away and outfitting the new location at the Mount Airy hospital is expected to cost $21 million.

The hospital offers 5,000 square feet of space, a large campus and plenty of parking. Design work for the new crime lab is expected to take about six months.

Yousuf J. Ahmad, Mercy Health's president and CEO, said in a statement that when the Mercy first contemplated building its new Mercy West Hospital, officials began considering reuse plans for the Mount Airy campus in line with its mission.

"We promised to retain services on the campus, which we did. We also committed to the community that we would find a responsible owner for the property and ensure that the campus would not become derelict," he said in a statement. "Today, we're pleased to announce that we have followed through on our commitment and that Hamilton County commissioners have accepted our parent organization Catholic Health Partners' donation of the campus."

Mercy Health - West Hospital in Green Township opened in November.

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