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Hospital to hold public forums on new S. Hall campus
Construction will take around 2 years
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Public meetings

Here's a schedule of meetings Northeast Georgia Medical Center is holding on its new South Hall campus:

Tuesday: Hall County Library System's Spout Springs branch, Flowery Branch
Wednesday: Sugar Hill United Methodist Church, Buford
Jan. 24: Braselton Community Room
Jan. 25: Jackson Electric Membership Corp., Jefferson
Jan. 26: Hamilton Mill United Methodist Church, Dacula

Each meeting is set for 6-7:30 p.m. Contact: 770-219-3840.

 

Northeast Georgia Medical Center is seeking public input on plans for its new South Hall campus, River Place.

The hospital has scheduled five public hearings, beginning Tuesday in Flowery Branch, on the planned 100-bed hospital off Thompson Mill Road and what will be the new four-lane Ga. 347.

"Our commitment throughout this process has been to give (the public) the opportunity to provide input into the development of the ... campus," said Tracy Vardeman, vice president of strategic planning and marketing.

"Our hope is to get as much participation as possible from the greater Braselton community."

Melissa Tymchuk, a hospital spokeswoman, said the area surrounding the site "has been so supportive of (the hospital) throughout the process of working to obtain a certificate of need from the state to build the hospital.

"It's always been our commitment that we would seek community input as we develop this new hospital and health care village."

The hospital is working with its architect, Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, which is based in Minnesota, in putting on the forums.

HGA is "working right now on master campus planning," Tymchuk said. "We're looking at this campus not just for when we build the hospital ... but in what the community wants this campus to look like 10, 15, 20 years down the road."

"What we're building and designing should be a reflection of the community," Vardeman said. "We're not trying to pick up something that was in some other community and build it in this spot."

For those unable to attend one of the forums, the hospital is offering residents the opportunity to provide feedback through a survey at www.nghs.com/riverplace.

Carol Burrell, Northeast Georgia Medical Center's chief executive officer, has said the campus will consist of "far more than a hospital surrounded by parking lots."

It will have "neighborhood amenities," such as walking trails, retail shops and possibly even a farmer's market, Burrell said in a November speech to the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce's board of directors.

Also in the plans for the hospital is a "broad expanse of green spaces, complemented by intimate gardens" to surround the new facility as well as "breathtaking views of the lake and foothills."

When it opens in March 2015, the hospital's medical records will be kept electronically, Burrell said.

County taxpayers are backing the project by way of a $200 million pledge of bond support should the hospital not be able to pay its construction bills.

The pledge helps to reduce the interest rates on the loans for construction of the hospital. Tony Herdener, chief financial officer for Northeast Georgia Medical Center, has said it is unlikely that money will ever be needed.

"What this means is that our interest costs will be significantly less, which means that we will be able to reinvest $17 (million) to $18 million back into this community into technology and services that otherwise would be going somewhere else in this country," Burrell said.

Construction will take about two years to complete.

"There's probably about a year's worth of site work and land development that has to occur," Vardeman said.

The project's timing lines up with a Georgia Department of Transportation project to widen Ga. 347/Friendship Road between Interstate 985 and Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway, running through the hospital property.

A contract is scheduled to be awarded in April and construction likely will begin this summer on the nearly 8-mile stretch, said Teri Pope, DOT's spokeswoman for the Gainesville-based District 1.

The first leg of that work will take place between Spout Springs Road and Old Winder Highway.

"We're excited that we have that synergy with DOT," Vardeman said.

 

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