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Medical Center Makes Lorton House Call

Lorton Station residents have new doctors, pharmacy nearby.

Residents in the Lorton area no longer have to travel to Mount Vernon or Springfield for medical care, thanks to a new medical center that opened in March.

The Lorton Station Medical Center, located on Lorton Station Boulevard, contains nearly a dozen specialized medical suites, offering services ranging from general medicine and family practice to radiology, dialysis and cardiac care.

"The pharmacy is almost done," said Chris Lucias, one of the medical center's administrators and co-owners. "If I lived across the street, I'd come here."

The two-story complex is broken up into two buildings, Lucias said. The first building houses Mount Vernon Internal Medicine, Mount Vernon Cardiology, Fairfax Family Medicine, a general dentistry office, the new KC Pharmacy in its first location, Quest Diagnostics which provides laboratory services, and an office specializing in infectious diseases. On the ground floor of the second building is Fresenius, which offers kidney treatment and dialysis. Later in the summer, the Association of Alexandria Radiologists is set to move in upstairs.

"Lorton has been the fastest growing part of this area for years, and without a medical center, people have to travel eight miles in either direction to get any care," Lucias said. "This complex fills a need."

LUCIAS CREDITS one of his business partners, Albert Herrera, with having the vision of the medical center.

"He had an idea of who this would be and what the medical needs of the area would be and what would serve the community best," Lucias said.

The idea began to grow in Herrera's mind when Inova began discussing the possibility of closing Mount Vernon Hospital two-and-a-half years ago, Herrera said.

"A lot of community leaders were completely opposed to it, so I suggested the alternative to move the care out here but keep the hospital viable," he said.

On behalf of Mount Vernon Internal Medicine, the company he's worked at for over 20 years, Herrera approached Inova about creating a health-care facility in the Lorton area. Inova declined the offer. Herrera decided to find his own space, but a shortage of medical office space existed in Lorton.

"We opened an office in Gunston Plaza as a temporary office and later bought this land from KSI, which is developing the rest of the town center," Herrera said.

AT THAT POINT, Inova wanted to be a "major contributor" to the Lorton Station Medical Center but wanted to be a principal owner of the facility. Herrera refused and "two weeks later, they came out with the plan for the Healthplex," he said.

The proposed Healthplex, which will be located just down Lorton Road from a second Lorton Station Medical Center set to open later this year, will offer services that they do not, Herrera said, such as outpatient surgery, an emergency room and other specialized doctor's suites.

All but 1,250 square feet of the 43,000 square foot facility has been rented out, Herrera said, a reflection of the positive response the center has had from doctors.

"We're a part of the community now," he said. "Plus, we're in the process of building another 21,000 square foot facility out in the Lorton Marketplace near the [Shoppers Food Warehouse] which will have another pharmacy, a pediatrician office, an OB/GYN and an ear, nose and throat specialist."

The vision Herrera once had of the facility has come true, and he now hopes to become a fully-integrated member of the community.

"We want people in the community here to look for health care where they need it most, here at home," he said.

Lucias said the owners are also hoping to become further involved in the Lorton area, through groups like the Lorton Community Action Center and the South County Federation, along with events like the upcoming July 4 celebration at Lorton Marketplace.

INSIDE THE MEDICAL CENTER, the newly-painted offices each have a slightly different style of lighting, counters and colors, but all are designed to give patients a pleasant experience. "People always say that this doesn't feel like a doctor's office, and that's just what we had in mind," Herrera said.

Already, the community is beginning to use the facility. In March, when the Mount Vernon Internal Medicine opened its doors, doctors saw an average of 100 patients a month. That number is up to 300 patients a month now.

"The whole idea of planning in each complex is to facilitate the care of each patient," Herrera said. "We want them to come here and have everything they need in one place."

A doctor with Fairfax Family Practice, David Lee said he's starting to see patients come with him from his prior position with their Fairfax office.

"This is a great location, right next to where the town center is going to be," Lee said. "It has convenient access for patients and the VRE's right here. Plus, every specialist you can think of is here in this building," he said.

Lee looks forward to when KC Pharmacy is up and running. "Everything here is going to be done electronically, so a prescription can be sent to the pharmacy electronically," he said. "Once you're in the system, you're in the system. All your x-ray information will be on file and can be sent to any of our offices. It'll be great for our patients."

Fred Moalem, the owner of KC Pharmacy, is set to open his new store this week.

"We'll have a grand opening after a week or two," Moalem said. "This is a growing area and with this medical center, everything is perfect. It'll be more convenient for the residents."

Some of his new neighbors have already stopped by, asking if they'll be able to transfer their prescriptions there, he said.

A grand opening for the entire medical center is tentatively scheduled for this fall, Herrera said, possibly in September, but no further details have been decided.