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The Times plans special coverage leading up to the opening of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s Braselton campus. Coverage will include a special section Wednesday.
Normally, people only go to the hospital if they have to.
But on Sunday afternoon, they showed up in absolute droves, with officers directing traffic, for the new Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton’s open house.
The hospital officially opens to patients Wednesday morning.
Thousands of visitors poured through corridors of the 100-bed South Hall hospital, checking out patient rooms and various medical areas, including the popular emergency department, where youngsters could climb around emergency vehicles.
Food was a popular draw, too, in the hospital eatery, Café 1400, and at stations around the building, with people munching on everything from pizza slices to molasses cookies.
For many people, touring the hospital was a way to fulfill curiosity.
“We’ve seen (the hospital) go up ... and we’ve anticipated it for a long time,” said area resident Josh Dunaway, at the event with his wife, Michelle, and children Addison, 7, and Mitchell, 4.
Josh and Michelle met and worked at Gwinnett Medical Center, so “it’s just very interesting to us to check out the hospital, having been part of health care.”
“It’s just so beautiful,” Michelle said. “It’s so tranquil. I love the view in the back.”
The patient rooms were a popular open house destination, where people inspected bathrooms, checked out furnishings and gazed out the large windows to below green spaces filling the back of the 119-acre campus.
From one of the rooms, Jan and Ed Ritter of Hoschton talked about why they decided to visit the hospital, and they had two good reasons: doctors who practice there and a daughter who works there.
“We decided to see where she would be working and what it’s like,” Jan said.
And so far, the hospital has a thumbs-up from the Ritters.
“This feels so very nice,” Jan said. “I mean, if you have to be in the hospital, you don’t want to feel like you’re in a hospital. This feels very comfortable.”
Plus, “the workmanship looks really good to me,” Ed said.
Brian Kemble of Flowery Branch was already familiar with the hospital, as his wife works as a nurse in neonatal intensive care at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.
She couldn’t visit Sunday, as she was working, but he brought his sons, Ethan, 11, and Clay, 10, to the event.
“This is a major thing for the community, so I decided to come out and support it,” Kemble said. “A lot of effort goes into making a hospital run and caring for people who need (care), so we’re appreciative of that.”
Wednesday’s opening marks a new beginning for medical care in South Hall but the end of about 15 years of hard work to get the hospital open.
The hospital offers a broad range of advanced surgical and medical services, with an emphasis on outpatient surgery as well as emergency services and specialty care in many areas, including cardiology, oncology, orthopedics and neurosciences.
Radiation therapy services are expected to start at Medical Plaza 1 by the end of this year.
And the hospital has received a Certificate of Need from the Department of Community Health for obstetric services. Work on that unit could begin later this year as well.