WellStar Health System – one of metro Atlanta’s largest medical providers – plans to replace its aging Paulding County hospital with a new 112-bed, $125 million facility to help meet the need of a rapidly growing population
The 226,000-square-foot facility will be located in Hiram and create an estimated 300 new jobs in Paulding, one of the fastest growing counties in the state, said Mark Haney, WellStar's senior vice president of real estate and construction. A new medical office building -- totaling 80,000 square feet -- is also in the works and will bring an additional 200 jobs.
“There’s a tremendous need for a new facility,” Haney said.
Paulding County's population has jumped nearly 75 percent to more than 140,000 in the past decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It's expected to climb an additional nearly 19 percent by 2016, WellStar spokesman Keith Bowermaster said.
Emergency room visits at the health system’s current hospital in Dallas, the county seat, have hit roughly 37,000 annually and could climb to 60,000 by the time the new hospital opens in spring 2014, said Haney, who is also administrator for WellStar Paulding Hospital.
The hospital is part of a larger effort by WellStar, which has five metro Atlanta hospitals, to provide better integrated, convenient care to consumers. It already plans a roughly 250,000-square-foot medical facility in Cobb County and a smaller building in Acworth that are designed to be one-stop shops for patients.
The new jobs will have a huge impact, said Jamie Gilbert, executive director of Paulding County Economic Development Inc. The hospital will help to keep residents who have been going to facilities outside the county, as well as attract patients from neighboring areas, Gilbert said.
It will also help attract new health-care related businesses, including life sciences and medical device companies, he said.
“Long-term, we see the medical sector as a huge growth industry for us,” he said.
Construction on the hospital, which must first be approved by the state, is slated to begin in August of next year with an expected opening in April 2014. An existing long-term care facility will remain at the Dallas site.
The new medical office building will include a retail pharmacy and a cancer center, among other services, and is scheduled to open in January 2013. The site already has an existing 76,000-square-foot medical office building.