South Georgia Medical Center opens new emergency room, expands opportunities for nurses

SGMC says the most important thing about this is making sure they ensure quality care in a timely manner.
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 5:50 PM EST
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - The demand for access to emergency care and hospital services is extremely high in South Georgia.

The state of Georgia has finally approved the South Georgia Medical Center (SGMC) to fully reopen its Northview Campus. This will bring hospital emergency services and inpatient services in addition to the services they previously offered at this location.

Doing so, they say this will open up several new jobs for nurses in Valdosta and surrounding communities.

Before, SGMC’s Smith Northview campus was used as an urgent care servicing as many as 120 patients a day. Now, it is in the process of being transformed into an ER.

“When we reopen this facility, this is going to give our entire community about 25% more capacity for emergency medicine access for members of the community. Certainly, our goal is that this can decrease wait time by more than 50% at our main campus. But then we never know until we get the volume coming in that it could just become as busy here as we do elsewhere,” Chief Medical Officer at South Georgia Medical Center, Brian Dawson said.

Brian Dawson is the chief medical officer for South Georgia Medical Center.
Brian Dawson is the chief medical officer for South Georgia Medical Center.(Source: WALB)

SGMC says the most important thing about this is making sure they ensure quality care in a timely manner. They say the plan is to continue to increase access to care until they’re able to get people treated as efficiently as they can.

“The unique thing about South Georgia Medical Center is that we’re big enough that we have the resources to make the difference. We have cardiothoracic surgery, we have cardiac electrophysiology, we have an award-winning stroke program. So we have all that specialty and all that capability,” Dawson said.

Once this facility is opened, it will have 45 inpatient beds and 12 emergency rooms easing care to the community.

“We really can’t overstate what reopening SGMC’s Smith Northview campus means for our community. You know access to healthcare, as Randy mentioned this morning, whether you’re in a rural area or more urban area, is so important,” President of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce, Christie Moore said.

Christie Moore is the president of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce.
Christie Moore is the president of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce.(Source: WALB)

A shortage in nurses is being felt across the American healthcare system. But South Georgia Medical Center says the hospital system has put together several plans to combat that problem.

SGMC says they have already picked up additional nurses who are training at their main campus to staff this new hospital.

“We did have times when there were shortages of nursing staff. Certainly, after the pandemic was starting to subside. Very strong partnerships with local nursing education facilities that have been able to provide us with some very strong graduates that have been able to fulfill those roles,” Dawson said.

Dawson says they’re always prepared if there may be a temporary period that their nurses may be stretched thin.

“We’ve made some pretty innovative changes in our staffing models and our programs to be able to bring in. At one time, we had staffing with travel nurses, but we’ve been able to transition off of that. We have more nurses moving back into the community, that are committed to working directly for the organization as employees,” Dawson said.

Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce President, Christie Moore, says she really can’t overstate what the 12 beds in the emergency room and the 45 inpatient beds mean for the community.

“We’ve seen with the pandemic just that increase in the need for access. I am so proud of the way SGMC has responded and made sure that we constantly prioritize increasing that access. As he mentioned whether you can pay or not, whether you live in a rural area or not,” Moore, said.

The demand for nurses is projected to hit more than 3.6 million by the year 2030, according to U.S. News. SGMC says they’re going to continue to open beds as they have nurses available to meet the needs of the community.

SGMC told WALB they want to thank the community. They say without the support of the community, they wouldn’t have been able to transfer this campus back into an emergency room.