|These buildings, once the domain of oil company employees, will house physicians and medical researchers.|
Inova is renovating the four nine-story buildings, with 1.2 million square feet, vacated by Exxon Mobil to house a new cancer center and other healthcare, research, and technology facilities. A new Inova conference center in a smaller building could open as soon as February.
|A sign on Gallows Road heralds the new Cancer Institute.|
Brian Hays, vice president of the Center For Personalized Health, describes the personalized health concept as “a restructuring of our health system so it’s more focused on the individualized elements of each person.” The objective is to “understand the molecular makeup of each person and to design medical treatments based on the person’s digital profile.”
Personalized health is “patient-centric” care that takes into account the “convenience, comfort, and needs of each individual patient,” rather than just being based on how the health system is structured, Hays says. “We’re also increasing our focus on wellness, activity, fitness, diet, and community outreach. We’re moving away from treating people just when they get sick.”
While the goal is to make this kind of personalized healthcare available to everyone, it will be phased in. There are two major impediments to doing this on a systemwide basis, Hays says: The tests are costly and insurance programs usually don’t pay for them.
With 100,000 patients admitted to Inova every year, he says, “we can’t afford to have everybody use personalized medicine. We will get there. As a system, we are intensively focused on making it real.”
The Dwight and Martha Schar Cancer Institute, to open in mid-2018, is being designed from the ground up to bring personalized, genetic-based treatments to patients, along with the latest techniques, devices, and chemicals, Hays says. It will also have a heavy emphasis on research.
The Inova Clinic is slated to open in mid-2017. It will house specialty clinics in such areas as cardiac and pulmonary medicine and will also include an expanded VIP 360 program, Inova’s concierge practice for busy executives and others willing to pay extra for premium services, and integrative medicine that includes yoga, meditation, and dietary supplements, which “are becoming more important in survival,” Hays says. “We’re trying to look at people on a holistic basis.”
Another key part of the Center for Personalized Health is the Inova Translational Medicine Institute, established in 2011, which focuses on genetic research, bioinformatics, and genetic counseling. A building on the new campus devoted to information technology and data analysis in support of Inova’s other programs could open later this year.
A research building, slated to open in early 2018, will have lab space and classrooms for George Mason University, and Inova’s other academic, government, and commercial partners. “We’re focused on creating a biotech industry in Northern Virginia. We’re unapologetic about that. It’s part of our mission,” Hays says. “That will create lots of wonderful, well-paying jobs.”
Inova’s long-range plans include the possibility of a new medical school, Hays says. Meanwhile, Inova has formed a partnership with Shenandoah University, which will begin teaching allied medical professions, such as nursing and genetic counseling, at the new campus by January 2017.
In three years, Hays expects the new campus to have 2,200 employees, the same number Exxon Mobil had when they left. At its peak the oil company had about 3,200 employees.
Future plans, however, call for many more, as Inova completes the renovations and begins to plan for the redevelopment of the remainder of the mostly wooded 80-acre site.
“We’re thinking what to do next,” Hays said. “We’d like to balance the preservation of green space with other development and we’re working on a master plan to balance traffic with economic opportunity.”
Inova hopes to attract health, pharmaceutical, and biotech companies to the site, and is already in discussions with major companies interested in relocating, but it’s premature to identify them at this point.
Inova is also considering housing and retail on the site making it a “destination that complements the Mosaic District” and that serves the PhDs and doctors working there, Hays says. “It’s a fantastic property. It’s the last, best piece of property on the beltway. We have a moral responsibility to do the right thing.”
Inova’s agreement with Fairfax County calls for Inova to pay the same property taxes paid by Exxon Mobil for the next five years, he says. “We don’t know what will happen after five years. By then, if we achieve our mission, we’ll be creating a lot of new jobs and new economic activity.”
Hays doesn’t think Inova will have any trouble attracting businesses. There is enough interest to “to fill this campus tomorrow. The opportunity and demand is significant and real,” and development “will have a positive impact on the community.”
Inova doesn’t need to have the property rezoned for the medical treatment and research facilities its planning, as those uses are close enough to how the property was used by Exxon Mobil. Long term, though, additional construction on the campus will call for an amendment to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan. That won’t happen until Inova figures out what it wants to do, and it will probably take at least a year to develop a master plan, Hays says.
“We would like to think that if we come up with a good plan that deals with all the issues, like roads and environmental issues, we can’t imagine not getting support from the community,” he says. Inova would like to have bike lanes, sidewalks, and some sort of transit, such as streetcars or controlled access bus lanes. “We’re trying to come up with intelligent development that complements the community.”