First Posted: 7/1/2011
LUMBERTON — Southeastern Regional Medical Center will spend $7 million to turn the former Winn Dixie building at Biggs Park Mall into a medical mall.
Duke Medicine and Southeastern Express Lab currently occupy about 11,000 square feet of the 40,000-square-foot space. The remaining space will be converted to an urgent care center, retail pharmacy and pharmacy clinic, weight management clinic and diabetes clinic. The project will also include administrative office space for Southeastern Regional Medical Center’s Physician Services and Community Health Services departments.
“This project will allow us to better coordinate service, given its proximity to the hospital, and be able to provide our patients with more convenient and affordable health care and preventative services,” said Joann Anderson, president and CEO of SRMC.
Anderson said the hospital and its board of trustees have spent months trying to decide what will go into the facility. The mall will get a new facade, and its inside will be gutted and renovated. The project is expected to begin in August and continue until about June 2013.
“We recently opened an urgent care facility in Pembroke with much success and saw a need for one in Lumberton,” Anderson said. “This gives people an alternative to the emergency room.”
According to Anderson, the hospital sees about 80,000 patients in its emergency room each year, an average of about 220 a day. She said most of them need urgent care rather than emergency services.
Urgent care cases are typically not life threatening, and include those that can be handled at a physician’s office.
The urgent care clinic will provide care at a lower cost to the patient and visitors will not have to scavenge for a parking spot in the crowded deck at the hospital.
The PharmCare Clinic, located at the end of the parking deck at the hospital, will be moved into the new building. The clinic gets sample medication from pharmaceutical companies and provides them to SRMC patients for free. A retail pharmacy will also be located in the new facility.
The diabetes and weight management clinics have outgrown their current locations, Anderson said. At the new facility, the clinics will be able to provide expanded services and bring in new doctors.
Two new general surgeons will offer gastric bypass and gastric banding procedures. The clinic will also have a dietitian and counseling services for a full-service medical management of weight.
Anderson estimates about 10 new positions will be created to support the new practice and three additional registered nurses will be trained for the diabetes clinic.
Anderson said that the project was partly a response to health-care reforms that encourage providers to consolidate services.
“Health-care reform aims to reduce the overall cost for providing care for providers and patients, and location is part of that,” Anderson said. “This project will mean that patients will only have to go to one place to look for the type of intervention that is best for them. And they will find comprehensive care in that one location.”
The space at Biggs Park Mall became vacant when Winn-Dixie closed several years ago. The hospital has leased it for the past four years for the Duke Medicine practices, which will remain.
“We are happy to be renovating a space that is sitting unused and repurposing it for the health care needs of our community,” Anderson said. “I’m really excited about this project. I can see some great things happening in that building.”
The project, which is expected to take about two years, will begin in mid-August.
— Staff writer Ali Rockett can be reached at (910) 272-6127 or [email protected]