A little more than a year after opening the new Northside Hospital Cherokee, hospital officials are preparing to celebrate the completion of two additional floors, an expansion needed to meet the growing needs of the community.
The eighth floor will open first, and should be complete by the first of December. The seventh floor will follow, two to three months later. The expansion will include eight inpatient beds, 13 relocated medical-surgical inpatient beds and 19 23-hour observation beds.
The hospital currently is operating with 118 inpatient beds, after opening with 105. The former facility on Hospital Road had 84 inpatient beds. Northside Hospital Cherokee CEO Billy Hayes said a decision on what to do with the old facility will be made this summer.
The demand on the hospital has come as a pleasant surprise, Hayes said, with patients coming from as far as Murphy, N.C. “We built what we thought was the right size at the time. We added a good bit of capacity to the new facility versus the old. What we’re seeing, is more and more patients who didn’t come here before, for whatever reason. It’s been a pretty significant increase.”
Other building plans include a two-story addition to the women’s center, with construction starting early 2019, and an upgrade to a Level 3 NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) by late 2019 or early 2020. Residents in Cherokee County and points north won’t have to worry about driving to Northside Atlanta for care in high-risk pregnancy cases, a bonus that Hayes calls “a game changer.”
Construction will begin in late summer on a 125,000-square-foot medical office building, with a projected opening date of July 2019. Tenants haven’t been determined, but the space will be designed for physician practices.
The new hospital is making a difference in Cherokee County; Northside Hospital Cherokee generated more than $397 million in economic impact, according to the Georgia Hospital Association.
“The first year, we hired over 500 people, from May 6, 2017, to May 7, 2018, with some moving here from out of the area. Currently, about 400 workers are here due to the construction, and these people eat, stay in hotels. The impact is tremendous,” Hayes said.
While the physical structures are built and improved, Hayes also is paying attention to the quality of the work environment and culture inside the hospital.
“I’m 100 percent convinced a happy staff will do a better job. We will have better outcomes if we have a happy staff. The staff is very prideful of what we have, very caring and compassionate,” he said.
“We have arguably one of the most beautiful facilities, but that’s just bricks and mortar. What makes the difference is the staff, how kind, caring and thoughtful we are. It’s not just about giving the right pill. It’s about creating a healing environment. I often use the term family. We want to treat you like family. For most of us, if our family could take care of us, we’d want them to do it. That’s how we want to treat everyone.”
Northside Hospital Cherokee is poised to continue to grow as the needs arise. The hospital sits on a 50-acre pad, surrounded by 300 contiguous acres. Hayes said, “We have more land than we will ever need to grow and expand. We are prepared for the future and ready to anticipate and meet future growth.”
– Candi Hannigan, executive editor of TowneLaker.