The dream for OhioHealth Doctors West Hospital to better serve the West Side community came closer to reality as the wrecking ball made way for a new state-of-the art emergency room and medical education center.

The dream for OhioHealth Doctors West Hospital to better serve the West Side community came closer to reality as the wrecking ball made way for a new state-of-the art emergency room and medical education center.

The walls of the 1962 Lincoln Village healthcare facility came down in a ceremony Wednesday morning attended by representatives of Ohio Health Doctors Hospital and medical staff.

The event marked the first official day of demolition and allowed physicians and associates an opportunity to see a portion of the original building come down.

"This is a milestone, the first of many we will celebrate as we head towards the opening in 2010," Mike Reichfield, president of Doctors Hospital, said. "This would not be possible without the help of the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation and partners at OhioHealth."

Reichfield said the planning of the two-story Emergency Department and the Medical Education Center has been underway since the announcement of $15-million to be presented by the OhioHealth Board of Directors, and a $12.5-million donation from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation given in support of the community and campus enhancement.

"I thank them for their belief in Doctors Hospital," he said.

Reichfield said the prospect of building a new emergency room has been a dream talked about for almost a decade.

"We have an incredible team of doctors, volunteersÉ.that work in an outstanding way to the service of the community," he said. "We will now have some outstanding tools to continue to do that."

The new facility will encompass 30,000 square feet and feature 50 private exam rooms and will be equipped to handle up to 100,000 patients a year.

"This new emergency room is vital to our community," said Marcy Conti, vice president of operations & chief nursing officer at Doctors, said.

Conti said the new facility will be equipped to handle up to 100,000 patients a year, and provide a safe, efficient and private experience for everyone involved.

"It's not often you have the opportunity to build a new emergency department from the ground up," she said. "We're designing it for efficiency and safety."

Already the second largest osteopathic training program in the country, Doctors Hospital's new medical education center will also boast 30,000 square feet and will be built where the current emergency department now stands. It will bring all existing educational components -- research, continuing medical education, a medical library and the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine --into a centralized location.

"As we look at the opportunity to build an education center we have the opportunity to be the best," Deborah Blackwell, Vice President of Medical Education at Doctors, said. "It will allow us to be the premier training facility in the country."

Members of the Doctors Hospital team all had a chance to swing the wrecking ball or pick up a sledge hammer in order to help demolish the building. The 1962, retro turquoise bricks of the building will be given away as souvenirs of the old building.

Once the demolition of the building is complete, a formal groundbreaking for the new building will take place later this year. Both facilities are scheduled to open in early 2010.

Csmithwestside@aol.com