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Don't let new facility become 'money pit'

Article-Don't let new facility become 'money pit'

Dr. Mandell-Brown
Cincinnati — Cosmetic surgeons should be aware of the pitfalls of building their own office, according to facial plastic and body cosmetic surgeon, Mark K. Mandell-Brown, M.D. of Cincinnati.

"Building a free-standing, office-based surgery center can be rewarding, but the experience can be a financially bottomless money pit," he cautions. "We probably wasted about $200,000 to $250,000 when we built our cosmetic surgery facility."

The steps involved with building a center include: land acquisition, architect selection and design, zoning issues, builder selection and contracts, operating room design and accreditation issues.

The building and land originally purchased.
Don't waste money Dr. Mandell-Brown admits that, "We wasted money along every step. If my experience in some way can help others be more economically efficient, then our project expenses will not have been in vain."

Dr. Mandell-Brown decided that locating the facility within a two block distance to an area hospital was important.

"We paid more for the land, compared to finding cheaper land in an outlying area. However for emergency purposes, being able to transport patients to a major hospital emergency room three minutes away was a number one priority," he tells Cosmetic Surgery Times.

Architect critical Architect selection is critical for project success.

The Award-winning building after completion. (Photos: Mark K. Mandell-Brown, M.D.)
The first architect sketched some ideas for $2,000. He had no experience designing operating rooms and Dr. Mandell-Brown wasn't excited about his design.

"We wanted a white brick, two-story building with a grand entrance," Dr. Mandell-Brown says. "Our second architect charged $5,000 for design plans and interior design."

A builder friend pushed him to make CAD drawings, adding to the expense before finalizing interior design."

Next, Dr. Mandell-Brown and his wife turned to a third architect, who claimed he could save them $75,000 by using the existing one-and-a-half story Cape Cod building on the property. After spending $40,000 with this architect, it became apparent that only two walls of the original building would be saved. Therefore, the entire building was demolished.

Bureaucratic red tape The purchased land was zoned for a medical office building. However, it took nine months to get approval from the city planning commission.

"As nice as our design was, two of the six commissioners were anti-development and did not want any new building on the property," Dr. Mandell-Brown says.

They blocked the plans along the way and added additions to the design for parking and landscaping which added expense to the project.

Finally, the Mandell-Browns turned to a fourth architect who had experience designing hospital operating facilities. He took the third architect's plans and reworked the operating room and recovery areas to be compliant with the Medicare and Accreditation Association of Ambulatory Health Care (AAHC) guidelines.

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