New medical center to open at year’s turn

Photo courtesy of the city of Dearborn

Midwest Medical Center held its grand opening ceremony last Wednesday at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Schaefer. Cutting the ribbon are Dale Watchowski (left), REDICO Development Co. president and chief operating officer; Brian Connolly, president and chief executive officer of Oakwood Healthcare Inc; David Tyler, Wayne County Economic Development; Mayor John O’Reilly Jr.; Dr. Mark Saffer, Midwest Medical Center president.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – The new Midwest Medical Center held its grand opening ceremony last week, culminating several years of questions surrounding the southeast corner of Michigan Avenue and Schaefer Road.

Formerly the site of Montgomery Ward at 4700 Schaefer Road, the Oakwood Healthcare System specialty site was open to local dignitaries within the new Dearborn Town Center Dec. 15.

“Never before have I, in my life, been a part of such a transformation of a building,” said Brian Connolly, president and chief executive officer of Oakwood Healthcare. “We were able to do things together that we were not able to do individually.”

Although the medical center won’t open until Jan. 3, the three-story, 168,000-square-foot structure appeared near finished last week as it prepares to provide round-the-clock urgent care to patients less than three weeks away.

“This looked like a slam dunk,” Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. said. “It evolved each time into something better for this old business district. It is a successful project in every possible way.”

The new building will provide a larger space for the currently cramped staff of Midwest Health Center, based just a block away from the new location.

“This is phase one of a multiphase project,” said Dr. Mark Saffer, president of Midwest Medical Center. “The years haven’t changed my vision of providing this community with comprehensive health care. I feel secure we can keep everybody working.”

Saffer said the new location will keep about 550 people working with the latest imaging technology, an on-site laboratory, multiple operating rooms and several other major upgrades from the current facility.

Additionally, Kresge Eye Institute will have an on-site Department of Ophthalmology and Eyewear Optical Shop.

“The team has captured the essence of Dearborn,” said David Tyler, deputy director of Wayne County’s Department of Economic & Neighborhood Development and the county’s EDGE (Economic Development Growth Engine) program. “It’s investments like this that are really the key component to making that [growth] happen in the future.”

With more than 60 primary and specialty care physicians, specialists and other health care professionals, the medical center will be prepared to handle more than 26 key focus areas.

In addition to constant urgent care for all, free senior services such as hearing screenings; blood pressure checks; height and weight assessments; foot screenings; and health and nutrition education materials will be provided to qualifying seniors.

“The vision for this site was cast very early on by (Saffer),” said Dale Watchowski, president, CEO and chief operating officer of Southfield-based REDICO Development Co. “We always said we’d get it done and we did, in a short period of time, given the obstacles.”

A parking garage along the south side of the medical center also will be free of charge.

(Contact Chris Jackett at