First micro hospital in state approved for Bluffton site

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The first micro hospital in South Carolina moved one step closer to becoming a reality with the state's approval of the project last week.

The hospital will be built and operated through a joint venture between Beaufort Memorial Hospital (BMH) and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), and will offer a wide range of acute care services, including orthopedics, cardiology, general surgery, lab and imaging, as well as emergency services.

The joint venture recently purchased 13 acres of land for the new facility at the intersection of Buckwalter Parkway and Bluffton Parkway.

The micro hospital was originally slated to be built next to Beaufort Memorial's new medical office building in Okatie Crossing on Hwy 170; however, the decision was made to move the hospital's location after soil tests and surveys at the Okatie site revealed that it would be cost prohibitive to prepare the property for the additional building.

Beaufort Memorial will move forward with the medical office building at the Okatie site, with plans to break ground this fall.

"We couldn't be more pleased with the state's decision to approve our application for this project," said Russell Baxley, MHA, president and CEO of BMH. "Working with MUSC to respond to the community's growing need for high-quality, specialized services will only help improve patients' access to care."

Plans for the facility include a 15-bed emergency room and 20 beds for acute care, with approximately 125 employees serving both adult and pediatric patients. The hospital is expected to open in 2022 at an estimated cost of $44 million.

"As we continue to monitor the needs of our growing state population, and talk with our affiliate partners such as Beaufort Memorial, one thing is abundantly clear," said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., CEO for MUSC Health and vice president for Health Affairs, University. "Our neighbors expect quality health care, delivered with a collaborative spirit in the most convenient geographic locations, and with a laser focus on value. This joint venture endeavors to do just that."

Micro hospitals are acute care hospitals that meet all federal and state licensing and regulatory requirements. They focus on treating low-acuity patients with a higher level of service, providing ambulatory and emergency services while leaving more complex surgeries and service lines for their associated full-service hospitals. Located near residential areas, they are able to provide quick, convenient access to the communities they serve.

Licensed for 197 beds, Beaufort Memorial serves as an acute care hospital, a regional referral center, and the largest medical facility between Charleston and Savannah.

BMH opened Bluffton Medical Services in Westbury Park in 2006. Today, the multi-specialty campus offers full-time primary care, adult rehabilitation, lab and imaging services, in addition to specialty services, including cardiology, orthopedics, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology.

BMH formed a clinical affiliation with MUSC in 2016 to offer cancer clinical trials locally. The affiliation has since expanded to include telemedicine services for stroke and neonatal patients.

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, the Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and 700 residents in six colleges, and has nearly 13,000 employees, including approximately 1,500 faculty members.

MUSC operates a 700-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized children's hospital, the Hollings Cancer Center, a Level I trauma center, and the state's only transplant center.

In 2017, for the third consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the number one hospital in South Carolina.

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