New obstetrics unit
Where: Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton
Size: 22,726 square feet
Cost: $16 million
Includes: 10 beds, a well-baby nursery, and before and after childbirth support spaces
Completion: Jan. 2, 2017
The Gainesville-based Northeast Georgia Health System has received a certificate of need from the Georgia Department of Community Health for obstetric services at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton.
Approval came last fall, and there were no appeals from other hospitals, Department of Community Health spokesman Jeremy Arieh said.
In its application, the hospital said its primary service area is Hall County and its secondary service area is Barrow, Forsyth, Gwinnett and Jackson counties.
“We are pleased that the state has recognized the need for these additional services in the Braselton market,” said Beth Downs, spokeswoman for the Braselton hospital.
“Physicians on our medical staff have been providing related services in the area for the last several years through the (obstetrics/gynecology), pediatric, medical oncology and surgery offices established on and around the NGMC Braselton campus.”
The hospital off Ga. 347, about one mile west of Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway, now will “proceed with the more detailed internal planning and review process required to ensure a successful project,” Downs said.
The certificate of need — a document that gives a hospital the OK to move forward on a particular service — requires the hospital to complete work on the new unit by Jan. 2, 2017.
In keeping with that deadline, the hospital will submit plans to the state by September, said health system spokeswoman Melissa Tymchuk.
The $16 million project calls for 22,726 square feet added to a wing at the hospital, which itself is under construction, with officials now saying the opening could run past the earlier projected date of April 1.
The unit will consist of 10 beds, a well-baby nursery, and before and after childbirth support spaces. The beds are multipurpose, serving for the child’s labor and delivery, as well as for recovery and postpartum needs.
The hospital was approved for 100 beds overall, but plans call for converting 10 acute-care beds to 10 obstetrics beds. So, “there will not be an increase in total licensed beds as a result of this project,” the CON states.
Its application especially “discusses expectant mothers who live in South Hall and experience … medical problems and are presently traveling to the main campus (in Gainesville) for treatment.”
The main campus at 743 Spring St. has the Women & Children’s Pavilion, which features 18 obstetrics beds and a neonatal intensive care unit.
NGHS “submits that when its South Hall facility opens, many emergency perinatal cases will present themselves, and medical staff will be required to deliver babies and treat these patients without the appropriate equipment and staff.”
In approving the unit, the Department of Community Health found that the hospital’s service area “will experience a population growth in women of childbearing age.
“Given this growth ... it is reasonable to project that there will be a continued need for OB services to accommodate the needs of expectant mothers.”
Kevin Bloye, Georgia Hospital Association, said that demographics is a “big part of the process” in determining CONs.
NGHS “is simply responding to a community need,” he said. “It’s a great benefit for both mother and child to be able to drive to a hospital that’s nearby. It’s huge.”
Braselton Mayor Bill Orr said the town, which also is in part of Jackson, Barrow and Gwinnett counties, continued to grow even during the Great Recession several years ago.
And, he said, there is plenty room for growth in the entire area that would be served the hospital — a swath running over to Flowery Branch and Buford.
“I’m tickled to death,” Orr said. “There’s nothing better than having a baby, if you’re having one, around the corner.”