MASSILLON — A $1.5 million injection into a former vacant commercial building has helped transform it into a modern medical facility for children.
Workers are putting finishing touches on the new Akron Children's Hospital Pediatrics and Rehabilitative Services building, 1149 Lincoln Way E., which is scheduled to open Tuesday morning. The effort to upgrade the building and open a pediatric primary care center and rehab office has been many months in the making.
"We're excited to open a new place, and get into some new things here," said Dr. Catherine Yost, a pediatrician who will be the lead physician at the center. "This [effort] has been on the table since the middle of last year."
Medical exam rooms total 16, while the facility has eight provider charting rooms, two physical therapy rooms for sports patients and youths with developmental disabilities, as well as a kitchen and conference room for staff members.
The center will be staffed by a board-certified pediatrician — Yost — and a pediatric-trained nurse practitioner. Pediatric nurses, physical therapy manager, medical assistants, an operations manager and office administrators round out most of the staff, according to Holly Pupino, senior communications specialist for Akron Children's Hospital.
Overall, the Massillon facility will have 15 regular, daily employees. Seven of those positions are new jobs hired specifically to open the new pediatric center, Pupino said.
Medical services will include routine checkups and immunizations for treatment of illness, injury and management of chronic diseases. Rehabilitative services will also be offered through physical, occupational and speech therapists, who will help children navigate injuries, illnesses, diseases and disabilities.
Patients will also be offered sports rehabilitation via the only pediatric-focused sports rehabilitation program in western Stark County.
Later this year, the facility hopes to add a pediatric mental health expert to work with families on depression, anxiety, attention-deficit disorder and behavioral issues, as well as positive parenting, Yost said.
Down the road, pediatric audiology services — with special training in diagnosing and treating hearing loss in children — will become available.
According to Yost, the new pediatric center is expected to see between eight and 12 patients who've already made appointments for Tuesday. The daily average patient load, she said, should be between 35 and 40.
Akron Children's chose to open a site in Massillon because of a need for pediatric care in western Stark County, said Yost, who expects the facility to regularly treat patients not only in Massillon, but also Navarre, Brewster, Beach City and parts of Perry Township.
"Getting people the closest access of care was a priority," said Yost, who's hopeful the center becomes a positive addition to the neighborhood.
"We expect a lot of people to walk here [from home] and use public transportation," she added. "We may attract a lot of people who don't have a primary care physician."
Rick Altman, co-owner of Canton-based A. Altman Co., owns the building housing the new pediatric center and is the contractor for the project. Work began to remodel the building in August 2018.
The building is the former home to a Goodwill store, and has been occupied more recently by temporary, popup stores, such as Halloween costume shops.
The 14,000-square-foot medical center is occupying the east side of the building, while the western portion — 12,700 square feet — is used by Living Water Church, 1135 Lincoln Way E. About 8,000 square feet of available space is between the church and medical center, which is large enough to accommodate a small business, Altman has said.