Shovels have yet to be put in the ground for the long-awaited Northeast Georgia Medical Center complex on Highway 400. But the plans to build the new facility have not been abandoned.
“COVID-19 has impacted everything, especially in healthcare,” said Chad Hatfield, Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) Vice President of Regional Hospitals. “The challenges it created forced us to shift our timeline for construction.”
One of those challenges, said Lumpkin County Commissioner Dr. David Miller, who acts as a liaison between the county and NGHS, is financial.
“The pandemic has influenced most major construction projects—including the replacement hospital. Since hospitals were required to suspend all elective surgeries, and their associated revenue stream, the health system was forced to delay many projects,” he said. “Plans are for the land disturbance applications to be sent to the planning office later this spring.”
That is the plan. However, that’s assuming further COVID complications stay out of the way.
“We’ll have a better sense of timing as the pandemic subsides,” Hatfield said.
HOSPITAL ON HOLD
The new hospital, slated for construction on GA-400 just south of the Highway 60 intersection, will follow the “neighborhood hospital” concept. It would offer a large ER department with private rooms and an extended stay observation unit for those needing multiple tests over an extended period of time. Diagnostic testing, imaging, surgical and integrated procedures suites, private inpatient rooms with accommodations for family, a pharmacy and dining cafe are also part of the original plan.
The number of rooms has yet to be determined.
Initially the current NGMC-Lumpkin’s lease on the former Chestateee Regional Hospital site was set to expire this year.
“Thankfully,” Hatfield said, “the Board of Regents—in cooperation with the University of North Georgia—agreed to extend the lease of the current NGMC Lumpkin hospital to October 2023. That ensures there will be no lapse in hospital service while we continue to plan and line up necessary resources.”
While residents won’t be seeing dirt moved on the site just yet, there is work going on behind the scenes. NGHS is continuing plans to “recruit additional specialty physicians who will be dedicated to serving the 400 corridor—with the goal to have them caring for patients before the new hospital campus opens,” Hatfield said.
More details will be forthcoming as soon as available, he added.
Additionally, Miller recently met with planning office personnel, representatives from Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and NGHS to discuss GDOT plans to conduct traffic flow studies on GA-400 where entrances to the new hospital will be. He also met with NGHS to go over signage requirements to conform to the Gateway Corridor regulations.
“We are excited about the future of healthcare in Lumpkin County, just like so many people in the community,” Hatfield said, “and we appreciate everyone’s patience and support."