South Ga. Medical Center’s new emergency department sees success in first months

Some residents in the community and leaders from South Georgia Medical Center say their new...
Some residents in the community and leaders from South Georgia Medical Center say their new emergency department has been performing well.(Source: WALB)
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:43 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - South Georgia Medical Center (SGMC) recently transformed its urgent care into an emergency department. And they say patients are giving positive feedback.

It’s been three months since South Georgia Medical Center fully reopened its Smith Northview Campus. They say they have seen more than 3,000 patients. Surpassing their expectations.

“Services have been needed. We’ve seen that in our patient volumes. We have been busier than we thought we would be, and that’s a good thing. We’ve seen a lot of patients who are excited that geographically we’re here on the North side of town. It’s closer to home for a lot of our patients, and I think that’s convenient,” Dr. Clark Connell, SGMC emergency department medical director, said.

Dr. Clark Connell is the Emergency Department Medical Director at SGMC.
Dr. Clark Connell is the Emergency Department Medical Director at SGMC.(Source: WALB)

When looking at patient reviews for SGMC, one woman left a five-star review after visiting the new emergency department.

“From the receptionist (Josh), to the nurse (Maggie), to Dr. Swayby, their service was awesome! They were all attentive, thorough, and swift. Honestly, one of the best ER experiences I’ve had,” Jade M., a patient at the new department, said.

SGMC leaders say they’re glad to see their efforts are paying off. They say they want to provide exceptional care day in and day out from one patient to the next.

“We always walk into a patient’s room with the intent to wow them,” Connell said. “As physicians or nurse practitioners or nurses, we really take heart when people say they’ve had a great experience. So, when I go into a room and I have patients say, ‘wow that was fast,’ or ‘that lab work came back fast,’ or ‘that medication worked fast.’ That’s awesome. That’s why we do it.”

When opening this new emergency department, one of SGMC’s main goals was to decrease wait times by more than 50%.

Having to take a trip to the emergency room is never fun, or something anyone wants to do. On top of not feeling well, the visit itself can be quite a problematic trip.

Wait times in hospitals have been a topic of conversation in South Georgia. When comparing nearby hospital wait times, the majority of hospitals have at least a two-hour wait. That’s one reason SGMC opened another location.

So far, SGMC leaders say this new emergency department has been providing exceptional care in a timely manner, and patients are leaving satisfied.

“I think we’ve done a good job trying to match our staffing with the demand. We’ve been busier than we anticipated, however, we’ve got mechanisms in place where we can provide more coverage. We try to bring in more nurses and more providers when needed so that we can match the supply with the demand,”. Connell said.

According to multiple sources, the average wait time for hospitals in the U.S. is 145 minutes, or roughly two hours and forty minutes. With that, SGMC leaders say having 45 inpatient beds and 12 emergency rooms will impact Lowndes and surrounding counties in a good way.

“We’ve been busy all seven days of the week, and we’re excited about that. We’re excited to provide a service that was obviously needed for the community. To help those patients who need emergency medical care have better access to the system,” Connell said.

SGMC leaders say they plan to continue to increase patient care until they’re able to get people treated as efficiently as possible.