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New Braselton hospital holds preview event in advance of grand opening
Georgia first lady helps dedicate Northeast Georgia Medical Center's South Hall campus
Bob Cook flips through his program Thursday during the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton grand opening preview and signature donor recognition program in Braselton. Cook is a relative of the Braselton family. - photo by Erin O. Smith

New hospital
What: Open house for Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton
When: 2-5 p.m. Sunday
Where: 1400 River Place, off Ga. 347, about 1 mile west of Ga. 211

Smoked salmon was in the emergency department and apple cake squares were in the surgery waiting area at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton.

The hospital, which opens its doors to patients Wednesday, was a showpiece Thursday night as invited guests in tuxedos and evening gowns toured the 100-bed facility off Ga. 347 in South Hall County.

Food, drinks and a program recognizing key donors highlighted the event, a grand opening preview sponsored by the The Medical Center Foundation.

“I want all of us to remember this moment, this historic event, a legacy in the life of this community,” said Carol Burrell, president and CEO of Gainesville-based Northeast Georgia Health System.

“It took a tremendous amount of community support to make all of this happen.”

She spoke to a large crowd seated and standing in Café 1400, the hospital’s eatery, which is part of an atrium that serves as a centerpiece for the hospital with its long staircase and entrance to an outdoor plaza.

A crowd filled the room and a balcony overhead during the program.

“We hope this community will be as proud of this state-of-the-art hospital as we are,” Burrell said. “It stands as a testament of what can be done when we all work together.”

Gov. Nathan Deal couldn’t attend the event as planned, held up in Washington, D.C., but first lady Sandra Deal stood in his place giving remarks.

“This (hospital) is near and dear to his heart, and he was looking forward to being here,” she said of her husband.

“Congratulations, and thank you to all of you who have worked so very, very hard to make this a reality,” the first lady said. “I think that for all of you who live in this area, (the hospital) is a great concern, a need for you all.

“A close hospital really makes a difference.”

She also praised the building’s appearance, saying, “I haven’t seen all of the building, but what little I’ve seen, it’s really beautiful.”

Anthony Williamson, the hospital’s first president, talked about the hospital’s “quest for excellence … in creating exceptional patient care experiences through continuous improvement.

“On behalf of over 800 team members who are making (the hospital) their new professional home, we commit to achieving that vision.”

Officials also recognized donors who have given a major gift to the hospital, establishing the Henry Edward Braselton Chapel, Braselton Rotary Flag Plaza, Auxiliary Love Light Garden, Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design display, two family consultation rooms and a treatment room in the emergency department.

Also, Don and Nancy Panoz “gave a generous signature gift to make possible a future naming opportunity that has yet to be identified,” according to the hospital.

Before the ceremony, Stephanie Williams, youngest daughter of Henry Braselton, said, “We are absolutely blessed tremendously (by) ... all the people who worked so hard to bring this (hospital) to South Hall County and the town of Braselton.

“We are just pleased and humbled beyond belief that we have this facility here in this area. It is going to serve future generations ... and we’re just happy to be a part of it.”

The hospital plans to open its doors to the public 2-5 p.m. Sunday for tours and up-close looks of various areas, such as patient and operating rooms, the imaging suite and cafe.

Officials have said they hope to make the event child-friendly, with opportunities for youngsters to explore emergency vehicles, including a helicopter.

“We will have a station where kids can color get-well cards for our first guests,” hospital spokeswoman Beth Downs has said.

Also, the first 1,000 visitors will get free tree seedlings, and refreshments will be available at Café 1400.