Athens Regional begins construction
Athens Regional Medical Center in Athens began construction on a 160,000-sqare-foot, $44 million addition in September 2005. The addition will increase the size of the hospital's main building on Prince Avenue by nearly 25 percent. The emergency department, built in 1986, was designed for 35,000 patients a year, but currently treats more than 55,000 annually. Projections indicate that emergency patient volume will grow to 70,000 per year by 2009. The current construction project will also expand and upgrade the central energy plant and the hospital's family care area for newborns and their families, add a new basement area for an undetermined use, and build a 337-vehicle, three-level parking deck, two levels of it underground.

Newnan hospital options mulled over
The Newnan-Coweta Area Hospital Task Force, which is proposing to build a new hospital in Coweta County to replace Newnan Hospital, in Newnan, announced that it would cost about $85 million to build and equip a new facility. Instead, Newnan Hospital is proposing to renovate its 40-year-old building, with the first phase of the project costing about $20 million. The task force believes it would actually cost closer to $50 million to renovate the old hospital, not including equipment. In either case, more than $40 million in debt would have to be covered. That debt was incurred when Newnan Hospital purchased Newnan-based Emory Peachtree Regional Hospital (now Newnan Hospital West Campus) in 2002. The Newnan Hospital board plans to meet with the task force on an undecided date.

Augusta burn center expands
Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital of Augusta expanded by 11 beds, bringing the total to 55. The new beds will be used for patients who do not require cardiac monitoring or intensive nursing care. The Burn Center admits more than 2,000 patients annually, about one-third of whom are children. The center, owned by Nashville-based HCA Incorporated, is the largest privately owned burn unit in the country.

Phoebe Putney to acquire property
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany will acquire the Byne Memorial Baptist Church and school for $1.25 million. The hospital plans to use the property for a data center that will house its electronic medical records. Phoebe Putney also plans to work with the SOWEGA Council on Aging to start a senior center on the property.

Northeast Georgia health system makes cuts
Gainesville-based Northeast Georgia Health System cut 293 positions in August 2005, including 62 active employees, in order to save $20 million. The funds will be used to pay for the $379 million long-term master plan at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville. The bulk of the cuts were made through attrition, retirement or consolidation.

Executive search for St. Joseph's
Bonnie Phipps, president and chief executive officer of St. Joseph's Hospital of Atlanta, is leaving to serve in the same capacity at Baltimore-based St. Agnes HealthCare. An executive search will be undertaken to find a replacement for Phipps, who will remain in her current post until the end of the year. She will replace Ken Bancroft, current president and chief executive officer at St. Agnes.

Northeast Georgia installs PACS, adds lab
Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville installed an $11 million Picture Archiving Communications System. The technology includes X-ray, MRI, CT scans and cardiac imaging. The hospital conducts about 750 imaging tests every day, not including heart exams, such as echocardiograms, that are done in the cardiac program. PACS makes images available for viewing as soon as they are taken, accessible from any computer on site or off site via a secured Web site. Northeast Georgia Medical Center was also approved by the state to add a fourth cardiac catheterization laboratory that will primarily be used for diagnostic and interventional procedures. The state based its decision on the high volume of patients treated at the hospital each month, which average nearly 250 diagnostic cardiac catheterization procedures and 80 cardiac interventions.

Gwinnett Medical plans expansion
Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrence-ville plans a $56 million expansion that will add a five-story tower on top of an existing three-floor building designed for expansion. The state-approved expansion would add approximately 100 beds to the hospital. Cash flow at Gwinnett Medical Center has improved during the past two years and GMC is able to finance the planned expansion; however, GMC hopes Gwinnett County Commissioners would be willing to provide some taxpayer funding for the project. The commissioners have no set deadline for a response to GMC's request on the funding.

GMRP contracts for nursing service
Georgia Medical Resource Pool contracted with MSSI, located in Vienna, Va., for its wholly owned subsidiary, Nurses PRN, based in West Palm Beach, Fla., to provide nursing services to six hospitals in the greater Atlanta market. GMRP handles contracts for staffing services for Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville, Piedmont Hospital inAtlanta, Piedmont Fayette Hospital in Fayetteville, Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, DeKalb Medical Center in Decatur, and Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Marietta.

Tift Regional opens Women's Imaging Center
Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton opened its new Women's Imaging Center, which provides mammography, DEXA bone density scanning, stereotactic breast biopsy and ultrasound, at its location on 20th Street. The 3,400-sqare-foot facility features all-digital mammography equipment.

Memorial Health wins four Healthcare Heroes Awards
Memorial Health was recognized in four categories by the Georgia Medical Society at the annual Healthcare Heroes banquet. The Healthcare Heroes awards, developed by the Georgia Medical Society to recognize organizations and individuals that have had a positive influence on community healthcare, presented Memorial Health with the 2005 Healthcare Heroes award for the Institution/Organization/Employees Making Significant Contributions to Healthcare. The Memorial Health physician residency programs received an award for the impact the residents have had in enhancing the health of patients throughout the region. Jennifer Currin was honored in the category of Healthcare Innovations. Currin is the manager of oncology support services at the Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute (ACI*) at Memorial Health University Medical Center. Patrick Booton, a medical physicist at Memorial Health, was awarded a Healthcare Hero Award in the Allied Health category. Booton works closely with newly diagnosed cancer patients. nGP

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