TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) - Tift Regional Medical Center is expanding and adopting a new umbrella title. Southwell is now the parent name for Tift Regional Medical Center, Cook Medical Center and 25 physician practices.
But hospital leaders say it’s just a system name change not an acquisition. On Monday, hospital leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new multi-million dollar four story tower.
Hospital leaders have had this vision for five or six years and it’s finally coming to life.
With the shoveling of dirt Monday morning, leaders broke ground on the new 263,000 square foot emergency center and patient wing.
“I think the thing that excites me most about this new tower and emergency center is that we can take even better care of our patients," said Christopher Dorman, TRMC President and CEO.
Dorman said the rooms built almost 60 years ago are semi-private, but this new tower will allow the hospital to convert to all private inpatient rooms, and double its capacity.
“Our hospital was originally constructed back in 1965, and we’ve grown exponentially,” he explained.
The emergency center was built in the late 80s to accommodate 20,000 patient visits.
“In the past, our patients have had long wait times in our emergency center because we didn’t have beds to put them in," Ddorman said, “We will have more access to critical care beds for the sickest of our patient population that typically have to wait in the emergency center for a bed that becomes available in our ICU, or step down unit.”
Now the hospital sees about 50,000 patients.
"It's important that we have a new emergency center so we can support the new growth that we've experienced over the years."
With more patients means more doctors.
“We’re looking into expanding into other services that we don’t currently offer. Adding additional physicians. Right now, we’re recruiting for about 37 physicians.”
This project comes with a $152 million price tag, but the USDA Rural Development program is providing 60 percent of the financing through a loan.
The other 40 percent: “Is coming from internal reserves. So we’ve worked over the past 5 to 6 years to save up money to be able to fund this project internally," said Dorman.
Construction has begun in front of 18th Street near the back of the hospital, and is expected to be complete in late 2021.