Healthcare providers eye growing South-Hall West Jackson area

Northeast Georgia Health System is still awaiting word on its Certificate of Need (CON) for a new South Hall campus, but the lack of state approval hasn’t stopped the Gainesville-based health system from making big plans for the area’s future.

In a recent Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce health care forum held before an audience of several hundred Realtors, local government officials and healthcare professionals, NGHS planning director Chad Bolton told attendees that rapid growth in the area demanded a new campus in South Hall, one that planners expect will grow to become a healthcare anchor for the region.

“We’re envisioning...a healthcare destination,” Bolton said of the 119-acre campus, which will be constructed (pending CON approval) on Thompson Mill Road (Highway 347) near Highway 211.

In its earliest phase, the campus will include a 100,000-square-foot medical office building to house specialists, as well as in-patient services, general surgery, an emergency room and outpatient rehabilitation. The 274,000-square-foot hospital will hold 100 patient beds.

Bolton says that after that first phase, planned for completion in 2012, he expects the campus to grow even more. “The first phase, the most important phase is getting the physicians in the area,”

Bolton said. “Really, everything that comes afterward will evolve as people demand it.” 

"In a very short time, you can fill a hospital with people [from] a five mile radius,” he added.

Demand in the South Hall/West Jackson region is already high. The Braselton Clinic, a 6,556-square-foot outpatient clinic that serves as NGHS’s vanguard in the region, claims it has served 15,000 patients in its one year of operation. This summer, NGHS will begin construction on a 4,320 square foot addition to the facility. The Braselton Clinic will add another full-time physician once the project is finished.

Three primary care physicians and a physician assistant man the clinic full-time, and specialists are available in the building on a part-time basis.
NGHS believes it can fill a needed gap by catering to the fast-growing area of South Hall and West Jackson. Yet, it will first need to woo customers who might have loyalties with other local physicians closer to Atlanta.
“They kind of bring their own allegiances from where they’re coming from,” Bolton said.

And NGHS isn’t the only healthcare provider eyeing the region. The Gwinnett Clinic will open its 17th office in downtown Braselton, at the intersection of Highways 124 and 53, later this year or in early 2008.
In 25 years, Gwinnett Clinic has expanded to 14 locations across Gwinnett County and into Barrow County. The Braselton office will host one primary care physician and will accept walk-ins and appointments, says Becky Adcock, operations manager for the clinic. Patients needing specialist care can be transferred to another clinic in Lawrenceville.

“It is a growing area — a lot of new subdivisions, a lot of people moving further out of the city,” Adcock explained. “We always want to accommodate our patients. We do have patients who live in that area who are having to come further in to town. So hopefully that will be more convenient for them.”