Memorial Health planning new emergency rooms in Pooler, Richmond Hill

Updated: Feb. 13, 2020 at 4:56 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Memorial Health University Medical Center is planning to expand by adding emergency rooms in Pooler and Richmond Hill.

The hospital states it has spent more than $12 million on land for the new freestanding buildings.

The Richmond Hill ER will be located off Port Royal Road in an area that is currently wooded. Memorial paid about $9 million for the Richmond Hill site which consists of a little over 400 acres.

The Pooler location will be near Pooler Parkway and Blue Moon Crossing.

Memorial Health states the emergency rooms will be staffed 24/7, 365 days a year.

A rendering of the proposed Emergency Room facility coming to Pooler and Richmond Hill.
A rendering of the proposed Emergency Room facility coming to Pooler and Richmond Hill.(Memorial University Medical Center)

Each facility will be more than 12,000 square feet, have 12 beds (including one trauma bay) and will employ 32 staff members.

Each facility will provide on-site CT scans, X-rays, ultrasounds, include clinical laboratory services and will be staffed by clinicians trained to accept patients transported by EMS.

Two years ago Memorial Health was purchased by HCA Healthcare. Since then, they’ve seen a lot of growth and they are continuing that.

“It’s exciting to see such a large organization working together for one mission as we begin to expand that’s very exciting and also to be a part of a company HCA where we’ve invested, we’re really investing over $200 million right now in the immediate facility,” Memorial Health CEO Shayne George said.

Health system leaders say before work can move forward on the two locations, the state must issue a decision on their certificate of need. Memorial Health says they have a patient encounter in their ER that's very high in these two areas. For Richmond Hill, nearly 10,500 people visit a year and in Pooler, 11,000.

Hospital leaders have wanted to expand to the area before but wanted to do it right.

“We wanted to see what services those communities need closer to home, so we have focused in on freestanding emergency departments. We have submitted certificates of need to the state to be able to invest in those communities.”

That investment shows in the implementation of new equipment, facilities and even physicians.

“It’s an emergency department that could be 12 to 18 rooms..." said Memorial CEO Shanye George.

George continued to explain freestanding ER’s as facilities that operate just like at the hospital with board certified emergency physicians, imaging technology and more. He says this is still the beginning of the process, but they believe the buildings will cost about $12 million each and say it could be anywhere from 18 months to two year process. Ultimately they feel this move will help them better serve the community.

“If we invest in those communities it’s closer to home, people can get the care that they need very quickly and plus they are tied into a tertiary facility like Memorial Health.”

Memorial Health is a Level 1 Trauma Center that serves patients in nearly 36 counties. They feel extending this care is only right.

“That’s our business is to heal and to make people better than when they get sick so you know above all else we’re committed to the care and improvement of human life and that’s something that we’ll continue.”

This announcement excited Bryan County Chairman Carter Infinger.

“It will save our ambulances from having to drive down there if they have an ER facility. So, again, it’s a good thing, a good day for Bryan County with this announcement,” Infinger said.

Now that Memorial is owned by HCA Healthcare, they pay taxes on projects like this, bringing money to the community. Infinger said he’s excited to get to work with Memorial Health to look at infrastructure and more.

“We’ll have to look and see what they need infrastructure wise. And when we sit down with them, work together to come up with a plan to be successful for Bryan County and for their hospital,” Infinger said.

As leaders work out the details, community members say they too are excited to see Memorial move into town and provide needed services.

“Memorial, it feels so far when you have to drive and then the other one is all the way in Pooler, so we just have urgent cares and you can’t always get what you need at urgent cares,” Jesup resident Ashley Twongy said.

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