Originally created 05/15/98

Hospital expansion could bring in up to 100 jobs



A $14 million renovation and expansion under way at Columbia Augusta Medical Center could bring as many as 100 new construction jobs to the area for the next 18 months, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

A planned 32,000 square feet of interior renovations has begun at the west Augusta hospital, marketing manager Kathy Mills said.

Located on Wheeler Road, the additional 20,000-square-foot exterior expansion is set to begin in June, with construction scheduled to be completed by 2000, Mrs. Mills said.

Batten and Shaw, the Nashville, Tenn.-based firm in charge of construction, has announced plans to hire 70 to 100 workers for the job, she said.

"There are going to be a lot of construction jobs available," Mrs. Mills said. "And 80 percent of all the subcontractors hired are going to be local contractors."

At a ceremony Thursday, hospital officials broke ground for the expansion, which will allow the 24-year-old hospital's radiology, day surgery and emergency departments to grow.

"Right now, we only have nine (emergency) treatment areas, and we're going to be expanding that to 19," she said.

The project is designed to meet demand for expanded outpatient services, a growing trend of hospitals nationwide as insurance companies seek to cut health-care costs.

"That's basically the way health care is moving today, more toward outpatient services," Mrs. Mills said.

Columbia Augusta's expansion continues a growth trend among area hospitals, which have spent nearly $200 million on new buildings the last 10 years.