A new patient tower under construction at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville will make the medical center the third-largest in the state of Georgia.
Once completed, the 12-story patient tower outside of the current North Patient Tower will add 927,000 square feet of space to the medical center. It will include 10 floors of patient bed space and a rooftop helipad.
Hospital officials announced the expansion in December 2020.
During a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning at the construction site, Northeast Georgia Health System President Carol Burrell expressed relief for the project getting underway.
“To say it's been a long road to get to this groundbreaking is an understatement. It takes an incredible team to get any project like this underway,” she said.
The current emergency room will relocate to the ground floor of the new tower. The new tower will also allow expanded heart and vascular care with the Georgia Heart Institute, as well as neurosurgery and cancer treatment.
Doctor Mohak Davé, medical director of Emergency Services for NGHS, said Gainesville’s emergency room is one of the top five busiest in the state. He said the additional space from the new tower has been long-awaited.
“We've had to be relentlessly creative about finding new spaces to treat patients needing emergency care. We've had to do that in tents. We did it in any place possible,” he said. “We knew these patients needed care, our new space will be able to allow us to provide the best care for those folks.”
Burrell and Davé said the COVID-19 pandemic influenced some of the design for the new tower. Burrell gave the example of converting regular patient rooms into negative pressure rooms for patients with COVID-19.
“Unfortunately, the rooms were often loud, hot and uncomfortable, not only for the patients, but for the staff because they were never designed with negative pressure in mind,” said Burrell. “So lesson learned, patient rooms in the new tower will be designed so they are more easily converted into negative pressure when needed.”
The new tower will also include pediatric flex space with rooms adapted to treat smaller patients and emergency physicians trained in treating pediatric patients.
A pediatric space will be named for Doctor Buddy Langston, a well-known retired pediatrician.
“This is a wonderful way to honor Doctor Langston and his legacy, and it means that we will be able to treat better small patients here at home,” said Spence Price, chairman of the Northeast Georgia Health System board.
The new tower is expected to open in late 2024 or early 2025. The estimated cost for the project is $538 million.