The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

April 4, 2014

Carolinas HealthCare unveils plans, changes for Stanly Regional


Thursday, April 3, 2014 — Carolinas HealthCare System announced that expansions and changes will accompany Stanly Health Services’ integration into its system.

At a welcome reception Wednesday, CHS President and Chief Operating Officer Joe Piemont and Stanly Regional Medical Center CEO Al Taylor unveiled  plans for an emergency department expansion project.

Plans are also underway for the construction of an urgent care facility.

A name change is in the works as well.

The emergency room expansion project will boost its current size of SRMC’s emergency facilities, Taylor said.

The number of beds should go from 18 to about 28.

“I don’t know how many employees we will add at that point,” Taylor said.

“It all depends how many patients end up coming into the facility.”

The new facility will also feature separate entrances for ambulances and walk-in patients, as well as a separate corridor for non-emergency patients.

“Currently a lot of people come right into the middle of the emergency room to get to the rest of the hospital,” Taylor said.

“We want to change that.”

The first stages of that expansion are expected to begin in six to 12 months.

Work on the urgent care facility will begin somewhere around the 12-month mark, Piemont said.

The facility will be constructed along N.C. Highway 24-27 in Albemarle on the property between Zaxby’s and Hardee’s.

“The key is to make sure we’re providing what the community needs,” Taylor said.

Many Stanly County citizens do not necessarily use a primary care physician, he said.

“Urgent care is the way things are going, so we want to make sure we’re providing that,” Taylor said.

While official plans have not been drawn up, he estimates the building will be 5,000 to 8,000 square feet, with one physician and four or five staff members.

“We’ve got a $70 million investment [from CHS] over the next 12 years,” Taylor said.

“In the first three years we’ve got a $23 million investment.”

The list of improvements that are lined up at this time includes upgrading the nursing unit, updating infrastructure, such as boilers and air conditioning systems, and expanding virtual medicine.

“[The integration with CHS] allows us to bring more to the community than we previously could,” Taylor said.

He pointed to the Levine Cancer Institute, an existing partnership with CHS, as an example of that.

“We couldn’t provide that as a small community hospital,” Taylor said.

As Piemont summed up, Stanly County already has a tremendous health care system, but some improvements require that greater purchasing power and depth of expertise.

“What we want to do is augment the depth of the care that is available,” Piemont said.

“There may be some higher acuity services, some sub-specialized services that we can make more immediately available to folks so they don’t have to travel as far.”

He said CHS has the means to do that.

Of course, the one change that will not require much, outside of legal fees, is a name change.

“It will be something that has geographic reference,  something such as Stanly or Albemarle worked in,” Piemont said.

There are a lot of legalities involved in a name change, though, he added.

It could be a year before it is complete.

“But we’re very excited about getting new signage and becoming a more visible part of the community,” Piemont said.

“We’ve always believed a team philosophy brings about the highest level of health care.”

CHS now includes 40 hospitals and 900 care locations across three states, with more than 3,000 physicians, 14,000 nurses and 60,000 employees.

“But the goal isn’t to be big, it’s to be best,” Piemont said.

Networking is one of the best tools for doing that, he said.

“We always say patients first,” Piemont said.

“You make a lot of good decisions when that’s your priority. We see that here and that’s what makes this such an easy transition.”

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