The hallways of a hospital closed less than one year ago are now filled with activity again, as Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Lumpkin officially opened at 7 a.m. today.
“This hospital first opened in 1976 and experienced ups and downs throughout the years,” says Dr. Donna Whitfield, chief of Medical Staff at NGMC Lumpkin. “When it closed last year, however, we lost an invaluable healthcare resource. I’m overjoyed to see it open again, and so are my patients. People in Lumpkin County and the surrounding areas now have a hospital they can be proud of and trust again.”
NGMC Lumpkin offers an emergency department, inpatient care and supporting imaging, pharmacy, lab and other services. Complete emergency services are provided 24/7/365 by the same group of physicians that care for emergency patients at other NGMC hospitals in Gainesville, Braselton and Winder. A thousand people came to a Community Open House last Saturday to tour the new hospital and enjoy live music, free food and family-friendly fun.
“It took close partnership between Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS), the Board of Regents, the University of North Georgia (UNG) and our local elected officials to save this hospital from the fate of other rural hospitals across the nation,” says state Senator Steve Gooch, a Dahlonega resident and former executive director of Lumpkin County’s Development Authority. “I’ve supported this effort from the beginning, and I look forward to working alongside NGHS to build a better future for our community.”
“Having NGHS step in to protect our hometown hospital is a true blessing that will save lives in Lumpkin County,” says J.B. Jones, Lumpkin County’s sole commissioner from 1973 to 1996 and a driving force behind the original hospital opening in 1976. “I want to encourage people to come to the hospital for care when they need it, because the more we use the hospital – the more likely it is to grow and thrive.”
The current NGMC Lumpkin campus will care for the community while NGHS develops plans to build a replacement hospital just five miles away on 57 acres along Georgia 400, immediately south of the intersection with Highway 60.
“The NGHS team has been incredibly helpful as we work with local leaders, Lumpkin County’s Economic Development Authority, the Dahlonega-Lumpkin Chamber of Commerce, the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government and others to create a vision for how that section of Georgia 400 should be developed,” says Chris Dockery, chairman of the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners. “This is a special opportunity to set our community up for economic success for generations to come, and we’re all dedicated to getting it right.”
The future NGMC Lumpkin is tentatively scheduled to open in 2022 and expected to provide emergency services, inpatient medical/surgical care, imaging services and a focus on outpatient surgery. The number of beds and operating rooms at the future hospital will be determined during the planning process, which will also explore innovative ways to deliver care.
“I’m extremely interested in understanding how we can use digital technology, for things like virtual visits, and involve aspects of integrative medicine which include holistic care for the mind and spirit – not just the body,” says Dr. Whitfield. “We also plan to engage the community this fall, likely through feedback meetings and online polling, to get their input about what they would like to see at the future campus.”
As the transition from the existing hospital facility to the new hospital facility is on the horizon, planning for how the existing facility will be used long-term is also in the works. NGHS leases the current NGMC Lumpkin property from The University System of Georgia Board of Regents. At some point in the future, the University of North Georgia will likely relocate some of its health sciences programs and services to the property.
“This facility and the positive changes in our local healthcare landscape create exciting opportunities to expand and enhance educational opportunities for our students, and we look forward to collaborations with NGHS and other local providers,” says UNG President Dr. Bonita Jacobs said.
Get driving directions and learn more about NGMC Lumpkin at www.nghs.com/lumpkin, or call the hospital at 706-867-4110.