Major Hospital Expansion Celebrated

     ‘Embracing a New Era’ was the theme of a dedication ceremony outside the new 45,000 square foot wing of the Laurens County Hospital yesterday afternoon. Hospital CEO Rich D’Alberto highlighted the need for an expanded Emergency Department by telling about the congestion he found in the Emergency Room area during a staff visit he made early last Friday afternoon. “I found every room occupied, and four patients in the hallway. While I was there, I observed Dr. Tozzi trying to perform a procedure on a trauma patient in the hallway; truly uncomfortable for the Doctor and the Patient. There was no privacy. And let us not forget, on that day, there were four behavioral health patients scattered throughout the hospital because there was no room in the ER.”

   Rich D’Alberto thanked the Capital Campaign Committee that has raised $1.2 million to assist in financing the expansion, with new Emergency Services and Women’s Health Services for theLaurensCountyHospital.

   Among those taking part in yesterday’s dedication program was the President and CEO of the South Carolina Hospital Association. Thornton Kirby spoke of the conversation going on in theUnited Statesabout health care, pointing out there are two different ways that change is happening in health care delivery, the political area and in the area of innovation in the local marketplace. “Both are being driven by the same forces, the fact that we cannot afford to continue, as a nation, to deliver health care the way we have in the past.”

   Thornton Kirby said the reason yesterday’s ribbon-cutting is so exciting is because this is an example of innovation at the market level that will make our health care system work better. He noted that using the Emergency Room as a primary system of care for the uninsured is not the most efficient way to provide health care. “So it’s really exciting to see a hospital that is figuring out new ways to put patients in the right setting by bringing to together modern emergency services and modern community health centers, and that’s what this project kicks off today. And so, to Rich and to the board, Mike Ellison and others, the rest of us in the state and country are eager to see how well this is going to work. We are very supportive and want to do everything we can to help you be successful, and I thank you for the opportunity to be with you today. Thank you, Rich.”  

   With the opening of the new Emergency Services area, the current Emergency Room area is to be converted to house a new FQHC, providing doctor’s office services that can be affordable to the uninsured.

  Upstairs over the new ER area is a new Women’sHealthServicesCenter, which includes new comprehensive labor and delivery rooms and an infant nursery that can be expanded to a Level II facility. Dr. Mike Wiggins, Chair of the OB/Pediatric Committee, is a 25-year veteran of the Laurens County Health Care System. “In this rapidly changing health care environment, our hospital has done extremely well, given its resources and size, to maintain this high level of care. Today, we open yet another door to its continued commitment to the health care ofLaurensCounty.”

   Dr. Wiggins outlined several of the features the new Women’sHealthCenteris offering, and noted future expansion capabilities. He also noted new and existing doctors working in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  

    Health Care System Board Chairman Mike Ellison told the crowd gathered outside the new wing that for the past decade the Health Care Board and Administration has consistently examined how they need to evolve to meet the county’s health care demands in a rapidly changing environment. He said they’ve honored the efforts of the visionary community leaders who fought to merge the two hospitals into one system, 23-years-ago, almost to the day. Ellison said that eight years of detailed planning led the board, administration, staff and volunteers to the point of yesterday’s ribbon cutting. “After more than eight years of detailed planning, hundreds of meeting hours, tons of frustrations, and plenty of ‘ah ha!’ moments, your board, administration, employees, physicians and volunteers are thrilled today to include you in cutting the ribbon on our new 45-thousand square foot facility for emergency services and women’s life centers.”

   Mike Ellison said the new facilities will help provide for unrivaled state-of-the-art care. He said that patient-centered care with a personal touch will always be the guiding principal. He also addressed the pending affiliation with the Greenville Hospital System.

“The GHS Partnership is a natural fit for providing economies of scale for more affordable services, for improving health services, for delivering world-class care and reinforcing our mission to create and nurture a healthierLaurensCounty. Together with GHS we can provide the world-class medical networks and care thatLaurensCountycitizens expect and deserve. The expansion of emergency services and the women’s life center are two examples of how we are embracing a new era and preparing your health care system for an exciting challenge that lies ahead.”

    Laurens County Council Chair Jim Coleman called yesterday’s dedication a great day for the citizens ofLaurensCounty, noting every community deserves a first class hospital and health care facility. Coleman noted he’s been a supporter of the Health Care System since he was elected to council in 1984. Coleman thanked all the people who worked hard for the health care system we have. He singled out one supporter from the 80’s. “I would like to thank a fellow council member from those early days, Hugh Jacobs. He received a lot of criticism, but he knew that one centrally-localized hospital was best forLaurensCounty. A lot has changed from that time to now….but we are still moving forward.LaurensCountyis a county on the move, and so is our health care system. To have a viable community, we must continue to invest in ourselves.”

  Dr. Jerett Tozi, Medical Director, Emergency Services, said he is pleased and excited about the new emergency facilities. He expressed thanks to everyone who had a part in making the expanded facilities a reality. He noted ways the new ER is an improvement beyond being double the size. “You’ll see that rooms are specialized for specific types of care, whether it’s pediatric or trauma or cardiac; orthopedic, OB/GYN, and that the nursing and physicians will be in the middle so that we have complete access to all the rooms. It’s a very state-of-the-art design, it has certainly come a long what from where we are now.”

  Another of the ER doctors on hand yesterday, Dr. Rinehart, noted that the ER group now known as Carolina Emergency Physicians has served the Laurens County Hospital Emergency Room Services for fifteen years, and continues to look forward with loyalty to the Laurens County Hospital for many years to come. Noting pride in the new ER facility, Dr. Rhine heart made a presentation, “As I began with a quote from Billy Graham, ‘God has given us two hands, one to receive with and one to give,’ with that, we graciously receive and look forward to our new facility. And it is now with honor and pleasure that Carolina Emergency Physicians now gives back by presenting a check to the Laurens County Hospital Care Foundation for $50,000. Thank you.” 

  Tours of the new Emergency and Women’s Health areas were given to the large crowd of folks on hand for yesterday’s celebration at theLaurensCountyHospital.