TIFTON — Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) held a ceremony on June 10 to break ground for a new $152 million expansion project.

An official groundbreaking was held on the exact spot where construction will begin with hospital and government leaders. Attendees were able to view exterior and interior renderings of the new expansion and enjoy refreshments and giveaways. More than 100 people from the hospital and community were in attendance.  

Construction has already begun on additional parking for the hospital in the area where Royal Pharmacy was located. The new patient tower will be located at what is now the main entrance to the hospital on 18th Street. Portions of 18th Street are being closed and John Orr Drive will be relocated to accommodate the new tower and parking areas.

Christopher Dorman, president and CEO, said that as soon as the tent and chairs from the groundbreaking ceremony was cleared away, construction on the new tower would get underway.

“We’re standing right now in the emergency center,” Dorman said while standing in the tent pitched on the hospital’s front lawn. “The emergency department will extend nearly to the edge of 18th Street.”

The expansion is a new, four-story tower on 18th Street to include a new emergency center and inpatient units.

Jimmy Allen, chairman of the Southwell Board of Directors, said the new tower expansion at TRMC is important in meeting the growing medical needs of the region.

“The first floor of the new tower will be our new emergency center,” Allen said. “Our current ER was originally designed to accommodate about 20,000 patients per year; we currently see close to 50,000 patients per year. That is how fast we are growing. The new expansion will help enhance the emergency care we provide for the community.”

Dorman said that the ER was built in the mid-1980s and just can’t keep up with the number of patients. He said that the current ER location could house observation beds and ambulatory surgery and procedure beds.

He said that he is most excited about being able to take better care of patients.

“In the past our patients have had long wait times in our emergency center just because we didn’t have beds to put them in,” Dorman said. “We will have more access to critical care beds for the sickest of our patient population that typically have to wait in the emergency center for a bed to come available in the ICU or step-down unit. The new patient tower will have an additional 36 critical care, ICU and step-down beds that will accommodate the sickest population.”

Allen said the second, third and fourth levels of the new tower will be inpatient units, including a new location for the hospital’s intensive care unit. The entire tower will cover approximately 263,000-square-feet.

“The project will also include some renovations to the current facility to make a seamless connection to the new building, dramatically changing the main entrance of the hospital,” said Allen.

Dorman said that the current hospital building was constructed in 1965 and wasn’t built for the amount of growth the hospital has seen.

“Most of the rooms that were built back in the 60s are semi-private rooms,” he said. “The need for private rooms is evident since we’ve grown exponentially since then.”

TRMC worked with the City of Tifton and Tift County to close a part of 18th Street and to reroute a portion of John Orr Drive.

“We thank the city and county for all of their cooperation in zoning and infrastructure efforts,” Allen said.

The USDA Rural Development Program is providing financing for 60 percent of the project with a bridge loan through TD Bank. Dorman said that the rest of the funds would be coming from internal reserves. The architectural designers are Perkins & Will, the project manager is Adams Management Services Corporation, and the general contractors are JE Dunn and Jones Construction.

Allen added that Tifton, Tift County and all of south central Georgia will be able to take pride in the new emergency center and patient tower at Tift Regional Medical Center.

“This new facility will take patient care to a whole new level,” he said.

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