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Christ Passes on Ft. Mitchell, Will Expand in Ft. Wright

The Christ Hospital Health Network announced on Tuesday that it will not proceed with a development plan in Ft. Mitchell on the former site of the Drawbridge Inn.

Instead, Christ will expand its current location in Ft. Wright on Dixie Highway.

The announcement follows a court decision forbidding the addition of an ambulatory surgery center operated by Christ on the site in Ft. Mitchell. St. Elizabeth Healthcare had challenged Christ's plan on the basis of whether there is a need for the service in Northern Kentucky.

Christ's application for a certificate of need (CON) was denied by a state judge.

That application was initially approved in June of 2017 by the Kentucky Office of Health Policy, but was overturned in Franklin Circuit Court based on an appeal by St. Elizabeth.

The issue went to the Kentucky Court of Appeals where Christ's application was denied.

“Following the court’s decision to disallow construction of a surgical center in Ft. Mitchell, we have decided to forgo construction at the Ft. Mitchell site. While we are disappointed that the court ruling has forced this decision, our commitment to residents of Northern Kentucky has been, and will remain, unwavering,” said Vic DiPilla, Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer at the Christ Hospital Health Network.

“As a result, and in order to meet the ever-increasing demand for options, we will be expanding services at our Ft. Wright site over time, adding to the already robust offerings such as primary care, physical therapy, specialty services and a state-of-the-art urgent care. We will also be looking to bring our care into new neighborhoods so that we can meet our patients where they are. We will have additional updates as those plans solidify. Until then, we cannot thank the residents of Northern Kentucky enough for their incredible outpouring of support in this mission.”

In Ft. Mitchell, Christ had planned to be part of a large mixed-use development led by Bellevue-based Brandicorp that would have included additional housing and commercial plans.

The plan was approved by the Kenton County Planning Commission and then the Ft. Mitchell city council earlier this year.

But in August, the Court of Appeals ruling came down against Christ.

The court's ruling followed by Christ's announcement Tuesday are blows to Ft. Mitchell's plans for the large, mostly empty site near I-75 and Buttermilk Pike.

"Our community’s priority since 2012 has been for a high-quality mixed-use redevelopment project at the 20-acre former Drawbridge site. We are surprised and disappointed in the announcement but understand Christ Hospital’s decision to not move forward," Ft. Mitchell Mayor Jude Hehman said in a statement. "We now have to regroup and figure out the future of this site.

"I feel confident that the site’s assets including prime interstate access and visibility, as well as our strong commitment to supporting this development, will ensure its redevelopment in the near future."

In 2018, the court's ruling against Christ was cited by Montgomery Inn as a reason to close its nearby Ft. Mitchell location where, the restaurant said, that business had been declining, but it remained hopeful that the new development would reverse that trend. Montgomery Inn had operated at the site for seventeen years.

Meanwhile, Christ has launched a public relations campaign in Northern Kentucky explaining its situation.

In a sponsored post last week at The River City News, Christ Hospital said, "To our friends in NKY: We heard you loud and clear. We know you want to see more Christ Hospital locations close to home. But our recent attempts to fulfill this wish with a surgery center in Ft. Mitchell were denied by Kentucky courts.”. Just know that we, too, believe you deserve options. And though we aren't able to build at this time, our team remains ready to serve all your healthcare needs at our existing offices in NKY, and locations just over the river. You have our eternal gratitude and heartfelt thanks for all of your support!"

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher