The prophecy made when the Princeton Medical Center announced its plans to relocate to Route 1 in Plainsboro – that Plainsboro will become a medical hub – is turning into a reality.

For Princeton Medical Group, a 32-provider group practice headquartered at 419 North Harrison Street, this makes now a good time to expand toward Plainsboro. The group plans to open its third location (the other being in Monroe) at the Plainsboro Medical Arts Building in Market Square Park in the beginning of 2012.

The timing coincides with the opening of the University Medical Center at Princeton, which is expected to move from its longtime facility on Witherspoon Street to Route 1 and Plainsboro Road by mid-2012.

According to Joan Hagadorn, right, chief operating officer at Princeton Medical Group (PMG), none of the group’s providers will leave Princeton, but rather rotate between Princeton, Plainsboro, and Monroe. She does say, however, that the new location (just shy of 16,000 square feet) will come with more practices, beginning with two new gastroenterology doctors who will join the group in August, and later an expanded internal medicine practice.

Sharbell Development Corp., based in Robbinsville, is building the exterior and expects to turn the building over to PMG to do its internal fit-out in September or October. After that, Hagadorn says, PMG expects to be ready for move-in by February.

Hagadorn has watched the popoulation of the Princeton area grow since she took over as COO in 1993. Perhaps the biggest change in the area’s medical establishment, she says, is the proximity of care centers to that expanding population.

By proximity, Hagadorn is referring to the sheer act of “getting across Route 1.” Princeton Borough, which currently houses the hospital, has not changed, but the number of people going past it, around it, and through it has soared in the past two decades. Outside of the facilities and the care, the chief asset Princeton Healthcare System is touting about the new hospital has been its more centralized location right off the highway.

Princeton Medical Group is on the front end of a small-but-steady push to build a medical hub around the new hospital. Barely two miles up the road, Princeton Forrestal Village is reinventing itself as a medical park. In May the investment group run by the property’s owners, Investcorp International and Lincoln Equities Group, signed the Urology Group of Princeton to a 5,175-square-foot, long-term lease at Forrestal Village. Urology Group joins Surgical Specialists at Princeton, a 12,400-square-foot surgical center based at 136 Main Street, as the first of what Investcorp hopes will be a string of new medical specialty practices.

Hagadorn says PMG has talked about the possibility of expanding ambulatory care facilities at the new Plainsboro site, but nothing is concrete yet. She says the group’s early and evening hours will likely occur at Plainsboro to accommodate the working population. Plainsboro will be open during regular business hours, she says, but what extended hours on which nights is up in the air.

A former Intensive Care Unit nurse at Princeton hospital, Hagadorn entered the administrative end of healthcare in the early 1990s, after she received her MBA from Rutgers (where she also earned her bachelor’s in nursing). She will remain on North Harrison Street with the rest of PMG’s administrative staff.

“You have to give Dr. Fong Wei [PMG’s CEO since 1980] a lot of credit,” Hagadorn says. “This has been his vision to expand to Plainsboro.”

#b#Princeton Medical Group PA#/b#, 419 North Harrison Street, Suite 102, Princeton 08540; 609-924-9300. Fong Wei, MD, president and CEO.

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