Representatives of the Abilene and Brownwood medical communities joined local officials and other guests Friday afternoon for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Hendrick Surgery Center in Brownwood.
    The $5.2 million outpatient surgery center will be built at 2401 Crockett and is scheduled to open in the spring of 2017.
    Abilene’s Hendrick Health System earlier announced a joint venture with Abilene and Brownwood physicians to build the outpatient surgery center, also known as an ambulatory surgery center, to provide “a low cost alternative to hospital-based, low-risk outpatient procedures,” Hendrick officials said earlier.
       The center will offer surgery for specialties including otolaryngology (ENT, or earn nose and throat), gastroenterology, orthopedics, podiatry, urology, gynecology, ophthalmology, pain management and plastic surgery.
    “It’s exciting for us to see a new business coming to town, and certainly one in the medical field,” Mayor Stephen Haynes said at the groundbreaking.
    Haynes said the Brownwood Economic Development Corp. created a business development plan and identified the medical field as the top industry sought for recruitment to Brownwood.
    “It’s a growing field, has great jobs, pays high wages and is a great community partner,” Haynes said.
    “We’re most especially excited that (Hendrick is) partnering with some of our local physicians.”
    Tim Lancaster, chief executive officer at Hendrick and former chief executive officer at Brownwood Regional Medical Center, said the new surgery center won’t be in competition with BRMC, but will be an alternative for patients in need of day surgery.
    Brownwood is blessed to have great physicians, Lancaster said.
    “This is a good hospital and they do a great job here,” Lancaster said of BRMC. “If we can be in town and do something to add to and give another choice to, I think that’s good for everybody.”
    Lancaster said Hendrick is excited to be in Brownwood. “This is a day that we’ve been working on for a long time,” Lancaster said. “It’s going to be very, very good. It’s a good same-day, low-cost alternative for surgery.
    “So your question might be, why are we here in Brownwood? Brownwood is a very vibrant community.”
    Hendrick sees patients from Brownwood who need or want Hendrick’s services, Lancaster said, “so we decided we wanted to do a good partnership.”
    Dr. James Fowler, a Brownwood ENT physician, said it’s exciting from a physician’s standpoint to “partner with Hendrick and just have this wonderful opportunity to take our trade outside of the hospital and into a surgery center setting.
    “It greatly affects my practice from day to day to have an alternative to the hospital. In this day and age, all of your personally, and us professionally, are experiencing fewer and fewer health care choices, and it feels often that those things are out of our control. This is just a wonderful opportunity to expand health care choices for individuals.”
      The 13,400-square-foot surgery center will include three operating rooms and 13 pre-op/recovery rooms, Hendrick officials said earlier.