People living in northeast Georgia are one step closer to having improved access to more life-saving and life-changing care, as Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) officially broke ground to build a new, multi-story tower in Gainesville today.
“This new tower is designed with the greater good in mind,” said Carol Burrell, President and CEO of NGHS. “Our community is at the heart of every decision we’ve made along the way and has kept us moving forward, especially during the past two years. As you can imagine, COVID drastically changed the way we think about delivering care to our patients and has allowed us to apply lessons we have learned to the new tower design.”
For example: during the pandemic, NGHS’ Plant Operations team and contractors got creative to manually convert regular patient rooms into negative-pressure rooms – which helps prevent airborne viruses from spreading and likely saved lives. But, unfortunately, the rigged ventilation systems often made the rooms loud, hot and uncomfortable. Because of that experience, the patient rooms in the new tower will be designed in a manner where they can more easily be converted to negative pressure when needed.
The 927,000 square-foot tower will be located next to the existing North Patient Tower on the Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Gainesville campus, making the hospital the third largest in the state by bed size. It’s anticipated to open in early 2025.
“As proud advocates for high quality health care in the communities we serve, we are excited about how this tower will provide improved access and advanced treatments,” said Rep. Lee Hawkins, Dean of Hall County’s local delegation in the state legislature. “Our region is blessed to have a thriving, independent health system like NGHS that is governed by volunteer board leaders who live and work in his community – which is increasingly rare in our state and nation.”
The new tower will pave the way for several anticipated improvements including:
- Moving the existing Emergency Department – among the busiest in the state – to the ground floor of the new tower and expanding the department to care for more people quickly and efficiently
- Bringing together heart and vascular services provided by Georgia Heart Institute, including diagnostic testing, cardiac caths and open-heart surgery, so heart patients and families will experience more seamless care
- Constructing a new helipad on the roof of the tower, which will mean faster and more efficient access to support life-saving trauma, heart, stroke and surgical care
- Expanding access to our comprehensive stroke center services, cranial surgery, and all levels of inpatient care for neurology patients
- Adding more operating rooms to expand available surgeries and procedures
- Adding more than 150 new beds for inpatient care
- Adding a parking deck with hundreds of new parking spaces for patients and visitors
- Adding the ability to care for more patients while also creating an opportunity for future renovation of the South Tower
- Extending the existing Wilheit-Keys Peace Garden and creating additional greenspaces to provide outdoor areas for gathering and reflecting.
“The project team spent a lot of time talking to physicians, nurses and other clinical staff to design a place that would streamline care for our patients,” said Dr. Deepak Aggarwal, NGHS Chief of Medical Staff. “The additional beds will help meet the demand of our growing population, and having more operating and procedure rooms to serve their needs is vital as well.”
The Emergency Department in Gainesville is consistently one of the top five busiest in the state of Georgia. Moving it to the reimagined space in the new tower should lead to shorter wait times for patients and an improved working environment for physicians and staff.
“We have needed new space for a while, and I’m grateful that we are one step closer to that reality,” said Dr. Mohak Dave՛, NGHS Chief of Emergency Medicine. “We have been able to design the space around new workflows borne out of the pandemic and other experiences to make an emergency visit more efficient for patients, physicians and staff.”
Through the work of the NGHS Foundation, the new Emergency Department will include space dedicated to treating pediatric patients. That space will be named in honor of Dr. Buddy Langston, a longtime pediatrician in our community.
As Gainesville-Hall County’s top employer and a good steward of resources, NGHS is committed to using local labor from the region and state as much as possible – with as many as 2,000 workers on-site at any time to make the tower a reality.
“Over the next two years, it will be virtually impossible to miss this tower coming out of the ground,” said Spence Price, NGHS Board Chair. “This campus is going to be transformed, and the economic and health impacts will be significant for our region.”
About Northeast Georgia Health System
Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) is a non-profit on a mission of improving the health of our community in all we do. Our team cares for more than 1 million people across the region through four hospitals and a variety of outpatient locations. Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) has campuses in Gainesville, Braselton, Winder and Dahlonega – with a total of more than 700 beds and more than 1,100 medical staff members representing more than 60 specialties. Learn more at www.nghs.com