GROVETOWN, Ga (WFXG) - COLUMBIA COUNTY IS THE LARGEST COUNTY IN THE STATE WITHOUT A HOSPITAL. While tHE COUNTY ISN’T RURAL, those that SURROUND it ARE. FOR DECADES, THEY HAVE DRiven INTO AUGUSTA FOR LIFE SAVING CARE. BUT, THEY WILL SOON HAVE A HOSPITAL TO CALL THEIR OWN LOCATED AT 5000 GATEWAY BLVD. IN GROVETOWN.

AFTER A DECADE OF SET BACKS, WELLSTAR MCG HAS BROKE GROUND ON WELLSTAR COLUMBIA COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER, Monday. STEEL IS ALREADY UP AND THE PROJECT IS MOVING FULL SPEED AHEAD.

WITH the hospital COMES, HUNDREDS OF JOBS.

THE PARTNERSHIP WITH MCG AND EDUCATING THE PHYSICIANS OF THE FUTURE AND HAVE THEM BEING FOCUSED ON PRACTICING IN RURAL GEORGIA IS JUST GONNA BE INCREDIBLE, NOT JUST FOR THIS AREA, BUT FOR THE ENTIRE STATE,” says Georgia GOV. BRIAN KEMP.

AND NEW TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS.

THEY HAVE BOUGHT IN HOOK LINE AND SINKER WITH THE EDUCATIONAL AND RESEARCH MISSION THAT WE HAVE AS PART OF OUR DNA AT THE MEDICAL COLLEGE OF GEORGIA," says PRESIDENT OF AUGUSTA UNIVERSITY BROOKS KEEL. "THIS WILL PROVIDE US WITH ANOTHER SIGHT THAT OUR STUDENTS AND RESIDENTS GET THAT TYPE OF TRAINING. SO, IT REALLY IS GOING TO IMPACT THE NEXT GENERATION OF HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS.”

RALPH TURNER, HOSPITAL PRESIDENT of WELLSTAR MCG HEALTH, SAYS CREATING THIS SAFETY NET HOSPItAL WILL CONTRIBUTE TO REDUCEd WAIT TIMES IN THE AREA. ADDITIONALLY, HE BELIEVES IT WILL ENCOURAGE OUR MILITARY COMMUNITY AND RETIREES TO WANT TO STAY IN THE AREA.

 “IT GIVES PEOPLE WHO THINK ABOUT MAKING COLUMBIA COUNTY HOME, A BIT MORE EASIER TO MAKE THAT DECISION.”

WITH THE COUNTY GROWING RAPIDLY, turner says WELLSTAR MCG IS ALREADY LOOKING AT WAYS TO EXPAND ITS 83 ACRES IN GROVETOWN.

“OUR EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, WE’RE ALREADY THINKING ABOUT EXPANDING BECAUSE WE THINK IT MAY BE ON THE SMALL SIDE," he says. "AND THE MEDICAL OFFICE BUILDING ITSELF, WE HAVEN’T FULLY DEVELOPED ALL OF THE SERVICE LINES THAT WILL BE IN THAT MEDICAL OFFICE BUILDING. BUT, RIGHT NOW, PRIMARY CARE, LOOKING AT PUTTING AN IMAGING CENTER TO INCREASE THE ACCESS TO RADIOLOGY.”

WELLSTAR COLUMBIA COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER AND THE ADJACENT MEDICAL OFFICE BUILDINGS WILL OPEN IN 2026,

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