While Inova Health Systems continues to evaluate the various aspects of opening a Lorton-area healthplex, a new private 45,000-square-feet facility is well on its way to completion with a projected opening in late 2005 or early 2006.
Known as the Lorton Station Medical Center, it is designed as an "all-inclusive medical center" located eight miles from Inova Mount Vernon Hospital and five miles from Potomac Hospital. It is only one of two such facilities aimed at serving the residents of the burgeoning Lorton/Laurel Hill environs.
"This is clearly an area that is and has been under-served by the medical profession," said Albert Herrera, M.D., the driving force behind the two medical centers, along with Stephanie Carter, M.D., and Christopher Lucius, not a physician but a management professional. The other, known as Lorton MarketPlace, is a 24,000-square-feet facility recently approved by Fairfax County Planning Commission.
"Other entities have had more than enough time to go in and serve this growing population. Since they have not acted, we decided to go in ourselves," Herrera said.
Eight months after Herrera and Carter unveiled their concept for a Lorton-area medical center, ground was broken for the Lorton Station Medical Center in March 2005. As an integral part of the emerging Lorton Town Center, the facility is located on Lorton Station Boulevard immediately adjacent to the VRE Station.
"This affords patients the option of coming to the center by either rail or vehicle," said Herrera. "This will be the first comprehensive medical facility in this area. Residents will no longer have to drive eight miles to get medical treatment."
Lorton MarketPlace will be built on a 2-acre plot — one and one half miles from the first facility at the intersection of Lorton Market Street and Groom Cottage Drive, just off the Lorton Road I-95 Interchange, according to Herrera.
"We've learned a lot since we started the project at Lorton Station. We can offer even more specialty care with the two facilities," Carter said.
"I was very nervous when we announced the first project. After all, this is a new adventure for all of us. But, it is going very smoothly and well," she said.
BOTH DOCTORS are part of Mount Vernon Internal Medicine, a group practice with offices at 8109 Hinson Farm Road and in Gunston Plaza. Established in 1976, approximately 10 physicians and four nurse practitioners are in the practice.
Offices at Gunston Plaza will be merged into the new $10 million Lorton Station complex upon completion. "Since we opened our offices in Gunston Plaza, it has been full averaging upwards of 30 patients per day," said Herrera. "And, we are already totally full with tenants at the Lorton Station location; that's why we decided to build another center."
Medical tenants at Lorton Station will include adult medicine, family practice, general surgery, orthopedics, podiatry, cardiology, infectious disease, neurology and dentistry. Other possibilities include plastic surgery, ear, nose and throat, and hematology/oncology. It will also house a pharmacy, radiology service and reference laboratory, according to Herrera and Carter.
"Services complementing those at Lorton Station Medical Center will be part of the MarketPlace center in a class A building," Herrera said. Both sites will be identifiable by their signature clock towers.
Herrera and Carter announced their plans for the Lorton Station center at a meeting of the Southeast Health Planning Task Force at the behest of Supervisor Gerald Hyland (D-Mount Vernon). "All the doctors they [Herrera and Carter] have reached out to are from the Mount Vernon area," said Hyland, at that time. "What Inova recognized as a need was right. These doctors have moved on that need."
As for the newly announced MarketPlace Medical Center, Hyland emphasized, "Clearly there is a need down there [in the Lorton area]. I hope they will also be able to feed patients into Mount Vernon hospital which will help the hospital's bottom line."
THAT MUTUAL COOPERATION was echoed by Herrera. "We're not in competition with Inova," he said. "We are bringing medical services to a community that desperately needs them. We think our two facilities will provide health services for the people of Lorton and Laurel Hill for the foreseeable future."
"But, when Inova eventually does build their healthplex, we anticipate it will complement our services," Herrera said.
The offices on Hinson Road will remain open offering a full range of medical services. "This is our strength and we remain fully committed to Mount Vernon as well as Laurel Hill and Lorton," Herrera said. He estimated that approximately 30 physicians would be practicing at Lorton Station and another 25 at MarketPlace.
In addition to easy access and recognition, both locations are designed to provide accessible parking to patients. Plans call for more than 4.3 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of built-out space, according to Herrera.
Lorton Station is under construction by L.F. Jenning, Inc., of Arlington. A builder for MarketPlace has not been chosen. "I'm a doctor not a builder so I was very nervous about this at the beginning. But, Jennings has been a really great company to work with," he said.
As one of the fastest growing communities in Fairfax County, Lorton/Laurel Hill has more than 160,000 residents within a five-mile radius of the two medical centers. The estimated new housing in that same radius is 10,000 units, according to demographics assembled by Herrera and Carter.
Both facilities are being developed "as a central hub" for the surrounding residential and retail communities. "With our signature clock towers, we look at these two facilities as places were people will get their health needs provided for in a timely fashion," Herrera said.