Georgia inks deal with Piedmont Healthcare for expanded bed capacity

Gov. Brian Kemp and Piedmont Healthcare staffers atop the new Marcus Tower.

Georgia health officials inked a contract with Piedmont Healthcare to expand the state’s hospital bed capacity as the number of coronavirus cases in the state soars.

Gov. Brian Kemp's office said the contract will add at least 62 beds at the hospital's main building at the Buckhead campus and, potentially, another 40 or so beds in the new Marcus Tower, which was opened four months ahead of schedule.

“We worked months ago with them to speed up some of the permitting and other things that they were doing to try and finish the towers quickly when we had the first big wave of hospitalizations in the state,” Kemp told Channel 2 Action News.

“We have worked with Piedmont to make those beds available to really anyone who needs them working with the other systems here in the metro Atlanta area.”

More details weren’t immediately available, though Kemp's office said the deal relies on existing contracts for staffing the new units.

The negotiations with Piedmont, reported last week, coincided with a broader state effort to expand hospital bed capacity amid a sharp increase in new daily coronavirus cases that's straining the state's health infrastructure. Some state health districts report just a handful of available hospital beds.

Kemp said last week that the temporary hospital at the Georgia World Congress Center, which opened in April and shuttered a month later, will soon be reactivated to relieve healthcare systems struggling with rising numbers of coronavirus patients.

His office said that mobile hospital units at Albany, Gainesville, Macon and Rome will remain in place, and that the state also plans to pay for additional medical staffers at dozens of healthcare and long-term care facilities around the state.

Kemp is set to issue a new round of coronavirus rules on Wednesday that extend limits for restaurants and other businesses. He also indicated that he would continue to encourage – but not mandate – the use of masks even as a growing number of cities pass local ordinances to require them.

“Obviously, we won’t be opening up or moving forward in any way,” he said, adding: “We’ve got to learn to deal with it, and we’re encouraging people to wear masks and follow the guidance that we have.”

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