LUMBERTON — Southeastern Regional Medical Center will soon break ground on a 60,000-square-foot ambulatory surgery center.
According a statement from the hospital, the hospital’s board of trustees recently approved the project, titled Southeastern Health Park Phase I.
Joann Anderson, president and CEO of Southeastern Regional Medical Center, said the ground should be broken sometime in the fall on land beside Dawn Drive, just west of Interstate 95 near Exit 22.
“A year or so after ground breaking, we would hopefully be opening the facility,” she said.
The primary focus of the facility will be a 13,000-square-foot ambulatory surgery center. Anderson said ambulatory surgery is any procedure that doesn’t require an overnight stay in the hospital, including many types of outpatient surgical procedures such as those for cataracts, ear tubes or orthoscopic procedures.
The state approved the certificate of need for the ambulatory surgery center component in January. The City Council approved a conditional-use permit for the site earlier this month.
Anderson said there are many needs the facility will meet, including patient access and affordability.
Currently, people requiring outpatient procedures must go to the hospital, which in addition to being landlocked and limited on parking, also has much higher overhead costs. Anderson said that the resources in the hospital “are more than what are needed for a minor case,” so if a patient comes in for a minor procedure but a more urgent case arrives at the hospital, that patient may end up waiting.
In addition to the ambulatory surgery center, the building will include a comprehensive orthopedic center, a gastroenterology center, pre-admission testing for outpatient procedures, an anesthesia and pain management center and outpatient rehabilitation, all of which the hospital currently has but are spread out in different buildings. For example, orthopedic services are currently offered in two separate locations, and the building that houses the gastroenterology offices has no room for outpatient procedures, Anderson said.
The building will include some retail space. Anderson said a restaurant will probably be placed in it.
“It’ll be something along that line, at least that’s what we’re projecting,” she said. “We don’t need a lot of retail space in that building yet.”
Anderson said that the facility will probably not mean a lot of new jobs immediately, but because the focus of the entire site is in outpatient service, jobs may be added as new outpatient services are added and the site expands.
She said if the case load increases in the ambulatory surgery center, it may be necessary to hire more physicians and support staff.
“Each time that happens, you’re going to add two to five positions automatically, depending on the service,” she said.
Anderson said that the $19.5 million facility is partly funded by local physicians.
“It gives the physicians an opportunity to invest in the services that are going to be providing,” she said. “It’s aligning the medical center with the medical staff in our community that much closer.”
So far, about 20 physicians have expressed interest in being investors.
Anderson said she hopes the facility will be a positive reflection on the county, and possibly even attract people to move here, noting that Lumberton is the first certified retirement community in North Carolina.
“If you’re recruiting retirees, they’re going to be looking for great health care,” she said. “… We hope to be a hallmark facility that will draw attention to our community.”