Hospital prepares to expand

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Standing in front of Doctors Hospital, CEO Shayne George can see a new three-story tower rising and the lobby expanding. As he contemplates the $55 million renovation the hospital is about to start, he also sees a host of new patients coming to fill it.

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This is an artist's rendering of the Doctors Hospital expansion. The three-floor tower will be built to accommodate growth.  Special
Special
This is an artist's rendering of the Doctors Hospital expansion. The three-floor tower will be built to accommodate growth.

The hospital will hold a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday to mark the start of the two-year renovation. The three-story tower added to the front of the building will hold a 24-bed ICU and 24 private rooms, along with space for education and outpatient treatment. It is not adding any beds to the 354 the hospital is licensed to have, but it is converting them to better uses.

"When the hospital was built, it was built essentially semiprivate, the whole place," Mr. George said. "We converted many beds to private."

That is going to be particularly important as the baby boomer population ages, he said.

"They're going to demand private rooms" and other amenities, Mr. George said. "That's a part of our strategy as the first steps in new private rooms."

The hospital's admissions are up 3 percent to 5 percent in the past three years, and Mr. George expects the trend to continue. A big part of that is the Joseph M. Still Burn Center, which is also a focus of the renovation. Standing outside the center's boxy and always full waiting room, Mr. George says it will be converted into an operating room like the two that are next door. The waiting room will be moved into what is now a parking lot at the back of the hospital and other services relocated to allow for future expansion.

It will be needed. The Advanced Wound Center, for instance, sees 60 to 100 patients a day, and the burn center already gets 60 percent of all burns in Georgia and South Carolina and many from surrounding states.

"We're starting to expand into Mississippi, Alabama, some of the other states," Mr. George said. What was built in 1985 as a 25-bed unit has grown to 59 beds and taken over part of a floor of the main hospital.

"We have so much volume, outpatient and inpatient for burns, we've just outgrown ourselves," he said.

It is more than burns -- radiation therapy, for instance, is up 30 percent over the previous year, and the hospital just bought a second linear accelerator to see more of those patients, he said.

"We're expecting growth in not only burn, we're expecting it in orthopedics, neurosurgery, women's services and cancer care," Mr. George said.

The tower, for example, will be built to accommodate three more floors in the future.

Doctors Hospital isn't alone in its construction. University Hospital is in the midst of a $94 million renovation, Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics is planning $110 million in projects in the next few years, and the school is planning a $124 million new building for the School of Dentistry that will likely be part of a larger medical education complex with new facilities for the School of Medicine.

Though other nonresidential construction will likely drop off next year after a year of double-digit gains, health care construction should continue unabated, said Kenneth D. Simonson, the chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, the construction trade group.

"That's one of the strongest markets, has been for a couple of years, and I expect it to continue that way," he said.

In some ways they have to build to keep up, Mr. Simonson said.

"Hospitals are having to extensively remodel to accommodate large new pieces of equipment and also to meet new standards of care for patients in recovery," he said. "You have semiprivate rooms being converted to private and adding a lot more wiring and plumbing for monitoring equipment" and things such as oxygen.

Doctors Hospital has spent $16 million this year on new technology, Mr. George said.

"We've really spent a lot of time, energy and money on just upgrading technology this year," he said. "It's been a huge year."

And it is only getting bigger.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.

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sneaky pete
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sneaky pete 12/09/07 - 04:27 am
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Expand the inept. Wow.

Expand the inept. Wow.

atwitsend
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atwitsend 12/09/07 - 11:41 am
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You said it, Sneaky Pete!

You said it, Sneaky Pete!

The so-called 'care' this hospital gave my dying mother was at best inept, and at worst...bordered on the criminal! Care, attention and compassion for an elderly, suffering, dying woman? FORGET IT.

Renovations? I suggest those in charge start by 'renovating' their standards...supervision...attitudes...oversight...and QUALITY of care.

Instead of "upgrading technology", why don't you try upgrading the personnel? What ever happened to the bedrock moral dictum: "First, do no harm"?

My late mother was a casualty of this pathetic, second-rate facility. I pity the poor people of Augusta!

a crazy old man
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a crazy old man 12/09/07 - 12:58 pm
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Right now your odds of comimg

Right now your odds of comimg out of Doctors if admitted is very low. Now they are going to make it bigger so your odds of survival will be less.

samson737
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samson737 12/09/07 - 01:19 pm
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crazy old man...news

crazy old man...news flash...we all gonna die..does it matter where..! it is where you spend eternity that counts anyway...both places start with an H but the accomodations are much different..!

a crazy old man
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a crazy old man 12/09/07 - 01:58 pm
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This is true samson737 but,

This is true samson737 but, that doesn't mean you have to speed up the process by going to Doctors Hospital.

iletuknow
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iletuknow 12/09/07 - 04:25 pm
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Got to be one of the worst

Got to be one of the worst hospitals I have ever set foot in! I feel sorry for anyone who has to come in contact with this place.
Be sure to get a good lawyer on call before checking in anyone you know.

atwitsend
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atwitsend 12/09/07 - 05:10 pm
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Why don't the people of

Why don't the people of Augusta demand that those who run this terrible place clean up their act? My family can't be the FIRST who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to the poor quality of so-called "care" at Doctor's Hospital. Had we not been from out-of-state, and had we not been so completely devastated by the situation, we might have been more inclined to seek legal counsel. Wake up, Augusta!

Oh, and samson737: your ridiculous comment is totally irrevelant to the subject! It's a silly and frivolous remark about a deadly serious problem!

LBOYLE
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LBOYLE 12/09/07 - 08:24 pm
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i am sorry for those who had

i am sorry for those who had such devastating encounters with the hospital, but as a former employee of almost two years, i never witnessed neglect. don't disrespect everyone that works there because of a few who do not know what personal and loving care is about. you're bound to see one or two bad apples at any hospital in the nation. i too lost a loved one from neglect at a hospital, but doctor's is far from a place like that. bravo to all the caring and nurturing people that work there, you do make a difference to those who are greatful that you did your best to save their loved ones.

bigbert9980
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bigbert9980 12/10/07 - 06:35 am
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Sounds fantastic !!!

Sounds fantastic !!!

MindFull
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MindFull 12/10/07 - 02:58 pm
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The C-Section rate at

The C-Section rate at Doctor's Hospital is 37%, MCG 34% and Trinty (St Joseph's) 30%. Only University is higher at 41%!!! The CDC released the 2006 national rate is up to 31.1% with Georgia moving up to 31.3%. South Carolina has a rate of 32.9%. SEE TABLE D at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr56/nvsr56_07_tables.pdf. YOU ALL need to WAKE UP and EDUCATE YOURSELVES! Read!!! Doctor's Hospital is even higher than the national average!! This is obscene.

createyourfuture
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createyourfuture 12/11/07 - 09:02 am
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The high C-section rate is

The high C-section rate is created by patients with unrealistic expectations and by the lawyers they hire to represent them.

better govt
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better govt 12/17/07 - 05:45 pm
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That us just not true. The

That us just not true. The C-Section rate is high cause te OB's only spend 6 minutes x 10 visits with their patients who are going to have a baby! That is 1 hour of face time to learn about that person's hopes, dreams, desires & fears...and of course visa versa. What about the diluted hospital childbirth classes? They are waek at best. And then there is the staff at the hospitals and the OB's who are needing to get that baby out so they can go home. Don't throw law suits at this problem. The OB's are causing the fire and they think but cutting women open they can make a 20 minute "quick" buck and absolve their responsibilities for possible bad outcomes due to all the interference that is caused with pitocin and managing women with cookie cutter births. Once women know the Truth about birth Trust in themselves and the process will follow.

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