FOLEY — Passersby of South Baldwin Regional Medical Center are going to see some major changes to the location over the course of the next few years. Less than a year after the opening the system’s freestanding ER in Gulf Shores, the Foley campus is ready to begin demolition on parts of the existing structure to clear space for the construction of a five-story tower.
The new facility is projected to be 208,000 square feet, and will include surgical suites, a Women’s and Children’s Center of Excellence on the second floor, and additional inpatient beds. The third floor will be divided into a surgical ICU and an inpatient ward, while the fourth floor will be for patients with infectious or contagious illnesses.
The project is estimated at $186 million. It will be the largest expansion at South Baldwin Regional Medical Center.
“I’ve been with the hospital for 17 years, and this is truly the most exciting time that I have ever seen in healthcare for this community,” said Interim CEO Margaret Roley during the first Leadership Series hosted by the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce for 2022 on Thursday, Feb. 17. “One thing that I am very, very excited about is to be able to stand here and deliver a healthcare system to a community that deserves it. I love this community, I love the people here, and being able to bring this to you guys is one of the most exciting things that I’ve been able to announce and do.”
Roley said approximately one-third of the existing hospital will be demolished to make room for the expansion, mostly the south-end of the existing structure. Once construction is complete, the remainder of the current building will be turned into non-patient areas for administration, labs, imaging expansions and more.
The new tower is slated to open in 2024, and the entire renovation process is expected to be complete in 2025.
“In healthcare, convenience is a need,” said Roley. “With that being said, along with the fact that we are going to take on a major construction project, it’s going to be a very painful process for all of us: the community and our healthcare system. Anytime you do this type of construction project it becomes disruptive with parking, construction fences, all of those things. But in the end, I hope it’s very painful to produce a product that was worth the wait.”
With construction soon to begin, having other access points besides the main facility is a top priority, Roley said. She said there are numerous network providers located around the area, and the hospital is in the process of adding additional providers soon. Network provider locations can be found on the South Baldwin Regional Medical Center website.
Additionally, the hospital’s residency program was recently approved to accommodate up to 30 residents, up from 24.
“That residency program is a tremendous pipeline for recruitment for us, and it gives us an opportunity over a three-year period to evaluate what we want, who’s a good fit for our community and who’s going to be here ten years from now,” Roley said. “It’s so much more than just being a doctor. If you put the wrong provider in the community they’re not going to do well, they’re not going to be happy. So, for us this is a true tool to get where we need to be for our network.”
During 2021, ER patient visits were up 12.9 %, inpatient admissions were up 10.6 %, births were up 12.8 %, surgeries up 12.2%, outpatient visits up 19.7 % and total patient encounters up 12.7 %.
“2020 and 2021 were horrible for healthcare providers,” Roley said. “But so many of you came through for us and our team, for our hospital. You were there. You brought pizza, you brought candy, donuts. It was a great year from the perspective that from the moment we didn’t think we could do anything else, somebody came through and lifted our spirits, made us feel appreciated. There are no words to describe how our team, our hospital, felt when we saw your faces. So, if we could not individually thank you like we should have, please take this as a group thank you. We would not have made it through what we did without this community, and we intend to be here for you to provide the care to you that you deserve.”
To learn more, visit www.southbaldwinrmc.com.