KOCHI (Kyodo) An opening ceremony was held this weekend at the newly built Kochi Health Science Center prior to its planned March 1 opening, when it will become the first public medical-care center managed in partnership with a private-sector company.

Key medical services at the 648-bed, 12-story facility will be offered by a hospital union affiliated with the Kochi municipal and prefectural governments, but the management of the institution and peripheral services, including checkups, will be provided by the company set up by leasing firm Orix Corp. and other businesses both in and outside the prefecture.

“We want to live up to the idea that patients are the central figures and provide medical care in cooperation with the local community,” hospital director Motoichi Setoyama said at the ceremony. Orix’s chief executive, Yoshihiko Miyauchi, was also present.

The contract for the private initiative, spanning 30 years and including the construction cost of the medical facility, is worth 230 billion yen.

The hospital union estimates the arrangement will save the prefectural and municipal governments 17.7 billion yen over 30 years. The new hospital will absorb the operations of municipal and prefectural hospitals in the region.

Kochi Health Science Center is a high-tech facility featuring electronic medical charts and an online system for staff to share patient information.

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