Barnes Center will become BHS ambulatory care facility

The former Gregory Barnes Center for Biotechnology Business development at Clarion University has been purchased by Butler Health System Clarion and will be developed as an ambulatory healthcare center.

MONROE TWP. - Butler Health System and its local hospital, Clarion Hospital, has purchased the property formerly known as the Barnes Center in Monroe Township.

BHS Clarion purchased the property from the Clarion University Foundation Inc. for $2,650,000.

The three-story building sits high on the hill in the Trinity Point development, just off State Route 68 and Interstate 80.

Services at the new BHS location will be anchored by a modern, innovative approach to health care.

"The new location will include a Lifestyle Medicine Institute", said Dr. Elliot Smith, president of Butler Medical Providers, and chief of quality for BHS. "We are moving away from traditional illness care toward a whole new model of care focused on wellness. The Lifestyle Medicine Institute represents a philosophy and approach to care that will be infused throughout the organization.

"It will be supported through programs focused on changing lifestyle behaviors, prevention and education, and root cause of chronic diseases. Patients will be guided to the right care, at the right place, at the right cost."

A press release from BHS Clarion said the new building is likely to include a regional Cardiovascular Center of Excellence, including cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, and electrophysiology, surrounded by convenient outpatient diagnostic services.

Also at the new site will be a women's health center. It will house OB-GYN physicians, bone density and ultrasound scans, and a state-of-the-art 3D mammography, recently purchased by the Clarion Hospital Foundation, thanks to community support through a successful fundraising campaign.

"We meant what we said", said Ken DeFurio, BHS president and CEO. "Butler Health System will invest in healthcare in Clarion County and the surrounding area. During the pandemic, the community understands now more than ever the importance of Clarion Hospital.

"We are also committed to 21st Century ambulatory care, led by local leadership."

DeFurio added, "Butler Health System is committed to local healthcare. We are not here to send care out of the local community."

Clarion Hospital President Steven Davis added, "We will be the healthcare provider of choice in Clarion. We are here to stay."

Clarion University President Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson confirmed the sale later last week.

Pehrsson said the foundation was pleased to work with Butler Health System.

"It is a wonderful partnership in the community," said Pehrsson.

The Barnes Center, opened in 2009, lost its last tenant in November 2019 when the Clarion University Small Business Development Center moved to the Carrier Hall administration building at the university.

The 23,000-square-foot facility was designed to meet the Gold certification level of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

The facility is located within both a Keystone Innovation Zone and Keystone Opportunity Zone incubator.

Gregory Barnes, a retired accounting professor at the university, helped fund construction of the $5.6 million center with a $1 million gift. Other funding came from the state and federal government.

Barnes taught accounting at CUP from 1976 until his retirement in 2000; he lives in Delaware. He said frugality and successful investments made his donation possible.

On 2017, Barnes questioned the foundation's management and marketing of the building.

Barnes did not respond to a request for comment on the sale of the building.

The Barnes Center was designed as an incubator for technology business start-ups.

The second floor had been occupied until February 2017 by the Clarion Research Group, a locally-owned biotechnology company involved with dental medicine, hormones as diagnostic tools and medical devices.

NanoBlox, a company developing products using nanometer-scale diamonds, used half of the third floor for two years before leaving the area in 2012.