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Archive for Thursday, October 7, 1999

S TENANCY A KNOTTY ISSUE

October 7, 1999

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PromptCare's future in a building now leased by Lawrence Memorial Hospital is uncertain.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital is forging ahead with plans to open medical services at a south Lawrence location despite another business' reluctance to vacate part of the building.

Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Gene Meyer said services will be available at the start of November at LMH South, 3500 Clinton Parkway Place, and that construction crews are remodeling parts of the building to prepare for the new business.

That means construction crews are working around PromptCare, an urgent-care clinic on the first floor of the building. The PromptCare sign on the side of the building came down Tuesday to make way for the new LMH South sign, but PromptCare owner Dr. Michael Geist wants to assure customers he's still open for business.

"We're not closed. We're still here," Geist said. "A person driving by might see the PromptCare sign is off the building, and I'm afraid taking it off the building" will confuse people.

Geist and the building's owner, Kansas City, Mo., cosmetic surgeon Howard Ellis, wouldn't say why PromptCare continues to occupy the building, despite the fact Ellis is leasing the entire building to LMH for $180,000 a year. The LMH board approved a 15-year lease in mid-July.

In a previous interview, Geist said he signed a five-year lease with Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., about 3 1/2 years ago. Ellis recently purchased Columbia's share of the building.

What happened to that lease once Ellis made the agreement with LMH is unknown.

Ellis and Geist have refused repeated requests by the Journal-World to discuss the issue.

"I really have no comment," Ellis said Tuesday. "I'm a landlord of the building, and Lawrence Memorial has the lease to the building."

Hospital representatives said they had Ellis' permission to erect the LMH South sign.

"We plan to deal with Dr. Ellis on the terms of our lease, which gives us the responsibility and the right to all of the square footage in the building," Meyer said. "Our deals have been with Dr. Ellis, and obviously we don't have access to all of the space in the building right now.

"Right now we're exploring all options with Dr. Ellis, but we've gone into this leasing arrangement with the need for, and the intent to have, the entire building."

The 22,000 square-foot building opened four years ago and formerly housed Columbia's diagnostic practice and outpatient surgery center, both of which are now closed. PromptCare was never affiliated with Columbia.

LMH plans to offer certain lab procedures, intravenous infusion therapy and diagnostic (mammography, X-rays and CT scans) services at LMH South.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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