Sun, June 23, 2024

A familiar building in the CSRA re-opens

The sign welcoming visitors to the Piedmont Augusta Summerville Hospital says it all. The hospital has re-opened for in-patient care and emergency services.

It had been providing only outpatient care. It also serves as the health science campus of Augusta Technical College.

Nic Wood, Administrator of the hospital, told ABD many in the Augusta community kept telling them that they missed the hospital. Wood understood the connection people felt for the hospital. The Thomson native was born there when it was still known as St. Joseph Hospital.

“So, we said, ‘Okay, let’s look into that more. Let’s see what’s really driving that and what can we do there.’ So, we saw the opportunity to reopen the Summerville campus to provide patients a choice of which emergency room they would like to go to,” he said. “And we knew that this facility is vital to this community, it has such strong roots going all the way back to the 50’s. And we see that we’re meeting needs, we’re providing another option for healthcare.”

It did re-open temporarily during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then under University Hospital, the facility served as the hospital whose only purpose was to provide the type of care needed by COVID-19 patients.

“And one of the neat things about answering the call to the community is a lot of the team that worked over here during COVID, those who came in and took care of the COVID patients, they’re still with us. They’re still working at our Augusta campus. And some saw the opportunity to come back over here and work now that we’re reopened,” said Wood.

“Obviously, they dealt with very difficult and challenging times taking care of COVID patients, but the teamwork aspect, and the family and the culture that was built here, that has always existed here at this facility, where you see this as a chance to do it again.”

When the most critical months of the pandemic began to ease, the hospital again closed to all but outpatient care.

In January 2022, Dr. Jermaine Whirl, President of Augusta Tech, and Jim Davis, Chief Executive Officer of what was then called University Health Care System, announced a partnership giving the facility to the school to use as a campus.

When the partnership began, the facility was a fully functional hospital, with all the treatment and diagnostic equipment available.

The partnership continues in what is now a fully functioning hospital, with patients being admitted and cared for by healthcare professionals.

Wood said that creates new opportunities for Augusta Tech students.

“Now, we’ve opened up the door for them to get more real-life experience,” he explained. “We’re going to have the nursing floor here; we’re going to have the emergency department where they can go and do clinical shifts. It’s just really added additional clinical sites where we can provide that frontline training, that real firsthand experience training. What we strive to do is create such a culture of a family, a feeling of a home that those students then say, ‘I want to work there’ and we grow our own nurses in-house.”

The hospital re-opened on May 16 with a 15-bed Emergency Department that is fully staffed, 24 hours a day. There is a 12-bed inpatient unit. Equipment has also been upgraded.

“We really revamped our radiology department. We installed a new CT scanner, new X-ray equipment, new portable X-ray machines, and ultrasound machines. And we have a new MRI that will open in July. So, we’ve really invested in the technology of the equipment here at Summerville,” Wood said.

Next door to the main hospital in the Summerville Medical Building they offer primary care, and specialty services including for cardiovascular and diabetes patients.

Wood said they started hearing from excited community members, anxious for the hospital to re-open. It has now come to fruition.

“First off, we’re open and we’re ready for you. We’re ready to take care of any medical condition or emergency that you will have,” Wood said. “Second off, I think when you come through the doors, you’re going to feel a difference. You’re going to just feel that rich history and culture, of all the great work that has happened on this campus in prior years, that you’re going to have an easy experience. That’s one thing that we want to focus on, an easy patient experience.”

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