EFFINGHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - It's only 80 percent complete, but when finished, Effingham County residents will have a bigger, state of the art, brand new hospital. On Thursday, hospital staff, county dignitaries, and WTOC got an exclusive look at the facility.
"This is the main atrium area, where we'll have gift shops, rest rooms, vending machines and more," explained one of the many tour guides showing off what will become the new Effingham Hospital.
And there was a buzz of excitement running through the building on Thursday, even though the facility is not quite ready for business.
Dr. James Cornwell has practiced family medicine at the old building for four years and said it was time for an upgrade.
"We have been working and providing the very best medical care possible. And yet, the facilities around us haven't demonstrated the level of care that we've been providing," Cornwell explained. "Now, the surroundings will now match the quality that we've been giving for years."
"We have new operating rooms, new testing facilities, new labs, and new waiting facilities," said Richard Rafter,Chairman of the Hospital Authority Board.
In fact, the new Operating Rooms will be three times the size of the old ones. Now all the hospital's health services will be under one roof, and bring around 200 jobs to the area. The last time Effingham Hospital saw any type of upgrade was in 1993.
"We're not the hospital that we were in 1975, 85, 95, or 2005. We are a new facility, with a focus on being able to bring in more physicians, being able to provide more health care services, and not advocate care to other areas, when people can be served at home," explained Effingham Health System CEO Norma Jean Morgan.
Those plans will help folks like Effingham resident Ruth Lee.
"My first question when I have to see a doctor, other than my local doctor, is 'Well, who comes to Effingham?' I'll go see whoever comes to Effingham," said Lee.
Lee was one of the key community players in getting the $30 million project approved. By the look of things on Thursday, the hospital staff, Effingham residents, County leaders, and Lee liked what they saw too.
"Oh yes, I'm excited to see the final thing," said Lee. "I hope I won't be using it much, but who knows."
The new Effingham Hospital should be complete by the end of January 2012. It will open to patients in February.