Making the Move: Brunswick County’s New Hospital
Later this summer, Brunswick Community Hospital will fade into the past and Brunswick Novant Medical Center will emerge as the new hospital in Brunswick County.
“It will be a smooth transition with safety as our main priority,” says Amy Myers, the hospital’s director of marketing and community relations. “We have plans almost down to the minute.”
Myers emphasizes that safety is of primary concern in the transition of moving an entire hospital to a new building. Health Care Relocations, a specialty firm, will move the patients. The first to arrive at the new location on U.S. Highway 17 in Supply, about 3 miles north of the old hospital, will be the emergency room patients. Myers explains that the state license the hospital holds does not allow it to have two emergency rooms open at the same time.
Once the move begins, new emergency patients will be directed to the new facility.
At 7 a.m. all other patients will be moved from the 34-year-old hospital.
“The schedule allows for patients to eat breakfast here [at BCH], and lunch at the new hospital,” Myers says.
The new $107 million, four-story building for Brunswick Novant Medical Center (BNMC) provides 252,370 square feet of space for the patients, administration and staff.
Improvements at the new hospital include:
* All 74 acute care beds are private rooms. This includes five intensive care unit beds and five labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum (LDRP) beds. The old hospital held 60 acute care beds with five ICU and 2 LDRP beds.
* Rooms include a private shower and day bed for visitors who wish to stay overnight.
* The emergency area offers 22 rooms, almost double the 12 at BCH.
* The new hospital has five operating rooms, including one for Caesarian sections, as opposed to four at BCH.
* Four observation beds are in Maternity (BCH had no observation beds).
* The secured Maternity Center includes the HUGS infant security system and a choice between in-room baby care or a dedicated nursery.
In addition, BNMC offers:
* One gastrointestinal/endoscopy room
* Diagnostic imaging, which includes MRI, CT, digital mammography, ultrasound, X-ray and nuclear medicine
* Outpatient services, including physical therapy, cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation and speech therapy
* Pharmacy and laboratory
* Open visitation hours; that is, 24-hour visitations with some exceptions
* Health library open to the community as well as staff
* Business center equipped with computers, fax machines and copy machines
* Wireless Internet access available throughout the hospital
The move culminates a process that began in 2007 when the State of North Carolina approved the Certificate
of Need (CON) that Novant Health requested to build a replacement hospital. The state’s CON division received more than 8,000 letters in support of a new hospital.
“Hospital administration and staff have been incredibly grateful for the support our community has offered to the hospital.” Myers says.
At the same time, people were asking why the county needed a new hospital. Information at BCH’s website explains that population growth in Brunswick County between 2000 and 2005 reached 20 percent. Predictions for growth between 2010 and 2020 are at nearly 20 percent. That amount of growth requires concern about providing adequate healthcare facilities.
For its new hospital, Novant chose a 100-acre site on U.S. Highway 17, with the hospital occupying 30 acres of the land.
Before the purchase was finalized, Denise Mihal, president and chief executive officer of BCH, decided that compassion superseded technicalities. It happened that Pete Barnette, long-time Brunswick County Hospital Authority member and advocate for a new hospital, expressing concern that he wouldn’t live to see the groundbreaking for the new hospital.
“A dream of his was to see a new hospital,” Myers says.
Mihal arranged a groundbreaking ceremony for January 23, 2008, so that Barnette could participate in the ceremony. About 40 people attended, including David Sandifer, also a proponent of a new hospital. Three weeks later, Barnette passed on. And in April, Sandifer, who served as chairman of the Brunswick County Commissioners from 1998-2008, passed away.
On June 2, 2008, after the land purchase became official, the Construction Kickoff officially started the building of the new hospital. McCullough England Associates in Charlotte was chosen as project architect, and Brasfield & Gorrie with offices in Raleigh was hired as the contractor.
From the beginning, the companies and their workers became part of the community. In January 2009 when Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce initiated its Brunswick Stew event, members of the crew entered the stew contest and won an award. Another way the companies participated in community events was to be a sponsor of Dancing with the Brunswick Stars, an event that raises funds for scholarships at Brunswick Community College.
The biggest complication to completing the hospital was improvements that were needed on U.S. Highway 17. North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) required the hospital to construct two superstreets on the highway. The changes cost $3 million, an unexpected expense to
Novant Health, and the hospital could not open without the changes.
The solution came through an agreement between Novant Health and Brunswick County. Novant funded the road changes, but the county will reimburse Novant if the hospital develops its adjacent property, an action that will increase the county’s tax base.
According to information Myers provided, “Reimbursement will be allocated as a percentage of the additional taxes.”
A statement from Mihal emphasizes that Novant will not receive reimbursement from the county unless the land is developed. If that does not happen,
Novant is responsible for the cost of the entire amount of road improvements.
William Sue, chairman of the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners, says a North Carolina law allows local governments to participate with nonprofits and developers on a cost-share basis for infrastructure. After about a year of discussions with Novant Health, Brunswick County created an ordinance that only applies to road improvements by nonprofit hospitals.
“We are using the ordinance to help the hospital, which is nonprofit,” Sue says. “The hospital designed the superstreet intersections, and DOT approved them. The commissioners decided [on this arrangement] because the hospital has invested $100 to $150 million in Brunswick County. It provides services for Brunswick County citizens.”
Sue emphasizes that Novant will receive reimbursement only if property is developed by for-profit business.
“The main issue is that nonprofits don’t pay taxes,” Sue adds.
This summer Brunswick Novant Medical Center will emerge as a state-of-the-art medical facility. It represents growth in Brunswick County and stands as a symbol of progress. It will undoubtedly become a benchmark in the health of the Brunswick community.
For more information, see the hospital’s updates concerning the move on its website at www.brunswickcommunityhospital.org.