With the certificate of need approval and funding secured, CMC will break ground on an emergency department expansion and new private patient rooms in September.
"Funding has been approved by [parent company] HCA, which is a big step in this day and time. Access to capital in the healthcare industry has become very difficult in the tough economy, so the fact that our parent company has basically written us a $30 million check is very positive news," said Keith Sandlin, CMC president and CEO. "We see it as a huge vote of confidence for Cartersville Medical Center, for Bartow County and Cartersville as a community. Obviously, our company realizes that, although things have kind of been flat for the past couple of years, there's still a lot of growth opportunity here."
Construction will continue for about a year on the multiple projects simultaneously with a tentative completion slated in fall 2013. The coming additions will add 20 to 30 permanent new jobs within the hospital.
Reacting to demands on emergency room services, the CMC emergency department will nearly double from 18 beds to a minimum of 32 beds as a result of the investment. A CT scanner also will be added to emergency room equipment for quicker imaging abilities. Advancements during this project will position the hospital for future growth as a trauma center, a move Sandlin feels will be necessitated by a growing population.
"We've got 18 beds that we use in the emergency room and we see 50,000 patients each year in those 18 beds, which is kind of off the chart in terms of industry norms. With 18 beds, you would expect to see 30,000 to 35,000 patients," Sandlin said.
In addition to emergency room advancements, CMC will transform all patient rooms into private rooms, eliminating 18 semi-private rooms through the addition of a new patient floor. The hospital's newest wing, 2 North, will gain an additional floor containing 20 new beds.
"One of our existing issues is, we have 18 semi-private rooms out of our 112-bed makeup and nobody wants to be a semi-private room these days," Sandlin said. "The fact that we will be able to offer all private rooms will be much more of a patient satisfier and it helps us with patient throughput, too."
Total patient bed count will not increase through the expansion but current rooms will be renovated and the project will ensure every admitted patient is given a private room. With an average occupancy rate of more than 80 percent, CMC will be requesting additional beds from the state in "the not too distant future."
As the hospital's interior gets a boost, so will the exterior. Architectural and design plans are being drawn up now for the renovation, which Sandlin revealed will include a largely glass facade.
"It will really appear to be a new facility from the outside. We're going for better visibility," Sandlin said. "It's hard to believe a lot of our signage and a lot of our facility is 25 years old. We're just kind of looking for a fresh look across the campus."
Approval of the project and the necessary funding comes just as the hospital implements advanced technology for better care, including digital endoscopic equipment, a new MRI machine with cardiac imaging capabilities, and the equipment necessary for minimally-invasive hip replacement and high-dose-rate brachytherapy for cancer treatment.
"We're trying to reinforce the idea in the community that patients don't have to leave this community for top-shelf care," Sandlin said. "This puts us in a position where there's not really a hospital in Rome or a hospital in north Atlanta that will have a competitive edge over what's offered here in Bartow County."