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Gainesville hospital opens new building for babies
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Jason Bowen holds his 2-year-old daughter, Claire during the opening of the Women and Children’s Pavilion at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Sunday. Both Bowen and his daughter, a twin, were born at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center. - photo by SARA GUEVARA


Gov. Sonny Perdue talks about the birth of two grandsons at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has a fond place in his heart for Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Two of his grandsons, Jake and Judd, were born at the hospital.

He wouldn’t mind if his son, Jim, and his daughter-in-law, Stephanie, decided to come back to the hospital’s new Women and Children’s Pavilion.

"I wish I could talk them into it," said Perdue, noting that Jim has since accepted the call of a church in West Tennessee.

Perdue was part of a trio of elected officials who marked the dedication Sunday of the $50 million facility, which will go into full use Wednesday.

"A great medical facility is comprised of people, the medical staff and caring people who come there," Perdue said. "Now, this facility with all its technology will match up with the competency, care and compassion they already receive here."

One of the men who wants to succeed Perdue, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of Chestnut Mountain, not only had three sons born at the hospital, but Cagle himself and his wife, Nita, were born there.

"Looking at this place almost makes me want to have another baby," Cagle said, drawing laughter from the crowd. "The key word there is ‘almost.’"

Cagle added that he hopes his three sons, all of whom are still getting their education, might one day have his grandchildren at the new pavilion.

U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Gainesville, offered the dedicatory prayer for the new facility.

"Today, as we dedicate this facility, we thank you for life itself and for the new lives that will emerge from here," Deal said in his prayer.

Like Perdue and Cagle, Deal has ties to the hospital, where three of his four children were born.

Also recognized were the babies who were selected for the hospital’s new 2009 calendar, "No Two are the Same." The children ranged from babies still in their mother’s arms to toddlers, and many of them had to undergo intensive care at the hospital.

The two-story facility includes a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where the number of beds has doubled from 13 to 26.

The public was able to tour the facility Sunday. Today and Tuesday, it will be sanitized, having been toured by hundreds of outside visitors.

On Wednesday, mothers — except those in active labor — will be transferred, as the existing obstetrics unit begins shutting down. Once vacated, the current rooms will be renovated to new standards.

The pavilion includes 18 labor-delivery-recovery rooms, eight prep and exam rooms, four surgical suites for Caesarean sections, and eight antepartum rooms for high-risk mothers who are on monitored bed rest to prevent preterm labor.

The hospital currently delivers about 4,000 babies a year. The new pavilion will increase that capacity to 7,000.

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