Story By Hilary Brady | Photography By Logan Wallace

On July 31, 2011, the new Brunswick Novant Medical Center will open to the public, an occasion that has been anticipated for at least six years, if not longer.

“It all started in 2005,” recalls Amy Myers, the hospital’s director of marketing and community relations. “With feedback from the physicians and the community, the Brunswick County Hospital Authority recognized a need for change in the management of the hospital.”

In 2005 the Brunswick Community Hospital Authority issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to hospital management groups and received an overwhelming response from companies throughout the country. One of the many respondents, Winston-Salem, North Carolina– based Novant Health, was awarded the position and took over management of Brunswick Community Hospital (BCH) in 2006.

Now with a new partner in place, BCH President Denise Mihal evaluated the needs of the community in order to determine the next steps in improving and enhancing medical services in Brunswick County. Mihal concluded two things: One, in order to meet the long-range needs of the community, BCH needed more beds. Two, it wouldn’t be as simple as it sounds. In order to accommodate additional beds, it would be better to build a new hospital than it would be to renovate the existing facility.

“Brunswick Community Hospital had been granted a Certificate of Need [for new beds] in the past,” explains Myers, “but they never moved forward with it. So a new evaluation was done on the facility to see what it would take and whether it would be feasible to add beds at the current hospital. And it was determined that building a new hospital would better serve the community’s needs than simply adding beds to the existing hospital.”

Hospital officials attribute the need for additional beds to the expectation for growth in Brunswick County.

“Some of which we’ve already seen and some of which we’ll continue to see over the next few years,” says Myers.

According to BCH’s website, population growth is anticipated to reach nearly 20 percent in Brunswick County between 2010 and 2020. This adds to the 20 percent growth that the county already incurred between 2005 and 2010.

“The old hospital was never built to accommodate a large expansion,” explains Myers. “We were limited with little room for future development. So Novant leaders made a decision to pursue building a new hospital.”

An application for a Certificate of Need (CON) to build a new hospital was filed in November 2006. In January 2007 a public hearing was held, and in June 2007 the State of North Carolina granted BCH a CON to build.

“Once the CON was granted, it took some time to start construction,” says Myers. “But we held an early groundbreaking on January 23, 2008, to ensure that some very important people could be there.”

Pete Barnette, long-time supporter of the new hospital and BCH Authority member, and David Sandifer, chairman of the Brunswick County Commissioners and also an advocate of the new hospital, were two guests of the small group of about 40 people who attended the event. Barnette, who had expressed concern about not living to see the groundbreaking for the new hospital, passed away just three weeks after the event. Sandifer passed on shortly after, in April. It was a bittersweet story: Two passionate supporters were gone, but not before their wish of witnessing Brunswick County usher in a new era of medical care was granted.

With the groundbreaking ceremony held in January 2008, the next event was a kick-off to mark the start of construction on June 2, 2008, followed by the Topping Off Ceremony held July 9, 2009, when the highest steel beam was placed. Next up are the grand opening events.


What’s New

The new Brunswick Novant Medical Center (BNMC) will supersede Brunswick Community Hospital by means of technology, space, privacy, comfort, security and resources. Key features include:

~ All acute care beds formatted as private accommodations featuring a private shower and a day bed for overnight visitors

~ An emergency room nearly double that of BCH with centrally located nurses’ stations and breakaway doors that allow physicians to easily work between rooms

~ The addition of maternity observation beds (BCH had none)

~ Enhanced security in the Maternity Center with the HUGS infant security system

~ The option to choose in-room baby care or a large, dedicated nursery

~ A GI/endoscopy room

~ A pharmacy and laboratory

~ Diagnostic imaging, including MRI, CT, digital mammography, ultrasound, X-ray and nuclear medicine

~ 24-hour visitations with some exceptions

~ A health resource center including a business center and health library available to the community and medical staff

~ Wireless Internet throughout the hospital

~ Medical offices attached to the hospital


Before and After

To make the impressive enhancements more clear, let’s take a look at the numbers. Here’s where the hospital has been and where it’s going.

~ Acute Care Beds: BCH had 60 (including 5 ICU beds and 2 LDRPs), BNMC will have 74 (including 5 ICU beds and 5 LDRPs)

~ Operating Rooms: BCH had 3, BNMC will have 4

~ C-section Rooms: BCH had 1, BNMC will have 1

~ Observation Beds: BCH had 0, BNMC will have 4

~ ER Rooms: BCH had 12, BNMC will have 22

~ Floors: BCH had 1, BNMC will have 4

Not only will the hospital’s brick and mortar undergo a full transformation, its online presence will get a whole new look as well. With an anticipated launch around the date of the new location opening, will go live with new capabilities including an events calendar, online bill pay and information on guest services and hospital visits.


Great Anticipation

“All of our physicians are extremely excited about the opportunity to practice in a brand-new facility with new equipment and the latest technologies,” says Myers. “We recently brought our medical staff on a tour and they were taken aback by the new technologies and the larger spaces.”

The hospital will not only increase the number of rooms but also the size of its patient rooms, operating rooms, nursery and service areas. The cafeteria is nearly doubling in capacity. The nursery is expanding from the current 290 square feet to a spacious 1,200 square feet.

“The rooms, in most cases, are about a third bigger than our current ones,” says Myers. “The operating rooms are going from 500 square feet to 700 square feet. And the patient rooms are each increasing by more than 100 square feet. The physicians — and the patients — are excited about the bigger spaces but also about having the rooms to themselves. The private rooms will make it easier for physicians and more comfortable for patients. It’s all-around better for everyone.”

The community is equally thrilled about the new facility. Dating back to 2006 and 2007, BCH had received feedback from Brunswick County residents that they felt that the county needed its own hospital that it could really be proud of.

“I hear time and time again how excited they are to see that dream come to fruition with the opening of the new hospital,” says Myers.

Perhaps most eager for the July 31 opening, however, is the BNMC executive staff, particularly Mihal. With a $107 million, 252,370-square-foot hospital on the brink of opening day, Mihal has her hands full and her hopes high.

Her goal is simple: to take care of the community.

“We will provide high-quality, compassionate medical services locally in Brunswick County to meet the needs of our community,” Mihal says. “As the community’s partner for remarkable healthcare, we will strive to continue to grow to meet the community’s needs and provide services they need locally.”


Funding for the Future

With the transition from BCH to BNMC, the hospital will become a private, not-for-profit entity. The Brunswick Novant Medical Center Foundation has been established as the fund-raising arm of the new hospital.

“The purpose of the foundation,” explains Myers, “is to raise awareness of the hospital, maintain financial support of the patients and support the mission of improving the health of the community.”

The foundation will develop and implement a variety of fund-raising initiatives for the hospital, the first one planned for July 14, 2011. The Premiere Event will feature entertainment, food and tours of the new hospital. At a ticket cost of $100 each and sponsorships available, the event will raise funds for the hospital Foundation.

When asked what the new hospital means to the community, Mihal says with conviction, “The new hospital brings state-of-the-art, quality healthcare provided by dedicated, professional healthcare providers close to home for residents of Brunswick County.”

From fund-raising initiatives to fantastic advancements in technology, excellent security improvements and exciting space enhancements, it’s clear that come July 31 BNMC will be making big waves in Brunswick County medicine.


Project Facts:

Architect: McCullough England Associates in Charlotte

Contractor: Brasfield & Gorrie with offices in Raleigh

Project Timeline:

2006: Novant Health assumes role as BCH management company

June 2007: Certificate of Need Granted

January 23, 2008: Groundbreaking Ceremony

June 2, 2008: Construction Kickoff

July 9, 2009: Topping Off Ceremony

July 14, 2011: Brunswick Novant Medical Center Foundation Premiere Event

July 16, 2011: Free Sneak Preview Event

July 31, 2011: Brunswick Novant Medical Center Opens

Contact: Brunswick Novant Medical Center is at 240 Hospital drive NE in Bolivia. All new phone numbers will be in place, but the old phone numbers will roll over for a set time period. New main phone: (910) 721-1000.

New Brunswick Novant Medical Center