FOLEY — A new $200 million hospital expansion serving South Baldwin County should be complete in the next two years, administrators and local officials said.The expansion of South Baldwin …
FOLEY — A new $200 million hospital expansion serving South Baldwin County should be complete in the next two years, administrators and local officials said.
The expansion of South Baldwin Regional Medical Center in Foley will increase the facility's capacity to 142 beds, Margaret Roley, hospital administrator, said at a groundbreaking ceremony for the center Thursday, Feb. 9.
She said the 65-year-old hospital needs to expand to keep up with the rapid growth in the area.
"Being the fastest growing county, it requires us to meet those needs with this project and our volumes continues to grow over the last 10 years and we expect that to continue over the next 10 years and we're building the infrastructure for that," Roley said.
She said the five-story center being built next to the current hospital will allow the facility to consolidate and update services.
"Today, this expansion project that you are looking at will be an opportunity to confine the admission, the surgical experience, the outpatient process all into one very nice building," Roley said. "The reason that this modernization project is so important to South Baldwin is we have grown in our admissions, our surgeries, our emergency room visits, all of those key areas since this building opened."
Roley said people driving by on Alabama 59 will soon see supports and walls going up on the site.
"You will start to see steel go vertical, probably in the next month, a five-story building, a tower that will house all new outpatient and procedural area, additional OB women's services, additional med surge surgical beds and all new ICU," Roley said.
She said the $200 million project is the largest investment in healthcare in the area.
Drew Mason, division president of Community Health Systems, which operates the hospital, said that while the facility is in Foley, South Baldwin Regional Medical Center serves the entire region, and the expansion will be a major boost for medical services in the area.
He said a joint effort by hospital staff members and the community made the project possible.
"We have all of the pieces coming together between our board, our medical staff, our healthcare authority, the city of Foley, the city of Gulf Shores, the city of Orange Beach and the totality of Baldwin County," Mason said. "As one of the leaders in Alabama in growth and position for the future, you deserve a healthcare community that will differentiate and be competitive along the Panhandle and I think we're up for that."
Foley Mayor Ralph Hellmich said cooperation between the community and health care providers over the years helped make the growth and improvement of the hospital possible.
"The support of our community has been great, but without the partnership with the Healthcare Authority and CHS and everything that you guys have done over these past years has been outstanding," Hellmich said at the dedication. "It has driven this hospital to heights it has not seen."
Hellmich said the new hospital is needed to meet the needs of the growing population.
"We're the number one fastest growing city two of the last five years," Hellmich said. "Baldwin County is booming and now we're going to have a facility that matches the quality of care that our people inside those walls do. This is going to be outstanding. This is a great day."
Hellmich said one of the people who helped make the success of the hospital possible over the years was Sandy McGill, who was administrator for more than 20 years. The mayor said McGill, who was also his father-in-law, worked to visit every patient in the hospital every day.
"The patient care was the overriding concern," Hellmich said. "It wasn't about the bricks and the mortar; it was about the patient care."
Jo Hellmich said her father would be proud to see the tradition of patient care continuing at South Baldwin.
She said the new addition is a legacy to the work done by her father and others over the years.
"I challenge you, I challenge you, to live your dream and your vision as my father did for South Baldwin Regional Medical Center," she said.