columbus — Sometime this summer Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle will begin construction on its first family medical clinic in east Columbus, BMH-GT assistant administrator/support service, Bill Lancaster said.
As BMH-GT winds down on a $44-million expansion and renovation project at its 62-acre campus, support facilities such as the family medical clinics, which traditionally help steer patients to speciality services, are going to be more important in the competitive and cost-driven environment.
The two phase, construction project begun in the fall of 1996 will result in a new four-story, 100,000 square foot professional building, new 13,000 square foot cancer center, heart care center, six new emergency room operating suites and dramatically modified entrances and exits to improve flow around the hospital, Lancaster said.
Phase I of the project, which involved adding the emergency room suites and rebuilding the intensive care unit, was opened last September. Completion of Phase II and the professional building and cancer center, should come in late June, followed by the final part of Phase I.
The end Phase I will involve remodeling the existing suites and should be complete by late summer, Lancaster said. Completion of that project will result in increasing the space for emergency room services by more than two times, he said.
BMH-GT now performs more than 5,000 surgeries per month and the renovations, along with previous improvements in patient tracking and computer systems, will help expedite the process.
“It will dramatically reduce the time people are now spending in ER,” he said, noting that improvements in Phase II, including new space for pre-admission testing for inpatient, emergency and cancer center patients, will further speed-up the process.
“It will reduce the time you have to now spend in the pre-admission process,” he said. The process can now take up to two hours but after construction that should drop to between 30 and 45 minutes, he said.
Aside from the improvements in service, Lancaster said one of the most significant, and welcomed additions the construction will bring is the comprehensive cancer center. Previously, he said, BMH-GT offered only radiation oncology with limited medical oncology. The new cancer center will have a full oncology medical staff and some of the most advanced equipment for treatment on the market. Previously, cancer patients had to go to Tupelo, Birmingham, Jackson or Memphis, for service he said.
“We`ve never had a true comprehensive service, but that`s going to change,” he said.
Another important service being added will be diagnostic and computer catheterizations and open heart surgery, another procedure not previously offered in the area.
Lancaster said two floors of the ancillary care building will be devoted to hospital services such as outpatient diagnostics, outpatient surgery, new lab and diagnostic areas, and a 200-seat conference center. The new cardiac care center will also be located in this building. The third and fourth floors will be dedicated to physician office space. The free-standing building is located on the east side of the hospital and attached by a 90-foot connecting walkway.
General contractor for the project is Atlanta-based Beers Construction. JMGR, Inc., from Memphis is project architect.
New space for physicians and staff will be needed.
Lancaster said the improved and added services will increase the hospital`s payroll by nearly 100, including such speciality physicians as a new radiation oncologist, cardiologist and cardiovascular surgeon.
Currently, BMH-GT has roughly 85 physicians on staff and employs nearly 1,000, full- and part-time, said Megan Pratt, BMH-GT spokeswoman. The hospital has a seven-county primary area, around Columbus and Lowndes County with a service population of 250,000.
The current construction project is the first major brick and mortar improvements Baptist has made to the medical campus since the Memphis-based health care provider signed as 35-year lease for the hospital with the county in March 1993.
The 62-acre BMH-GT campus is actually comprised of two former hospitals, the Lowndes County General Hospital and the private Columbus Hospital. The two were merged in the mid-1980s to form Golden Triangle Medical Center. The former Lowndes County hospital now provides behavioral and psychological care and outpatient rehab.