After years of planning and development the new Liberty Regional Medical Associates Primary Care Midway Campus is under construction.
Wednesday, representatives from Liberty Regional Medical Center, the Liberty County Planning Commission, Liberty County Development Authority, Liberty County Commissioners, Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and others gathered for the ceremonial ground breaking.
The East End clinic will be located just east of I-95 on Islands Highway and next to the Tradeport East complex entrance.
Liberty Regional Medical Center CEO Michael Hester said he was thrilled to see many years of planning come to fruition.
“This is a great day for Liberty Regional Medical Center,” he said. “I think this is about seven or eight years in the making and we are finally here…and it’s going to have a huge impact, not only in the community but in the hospital itself to make sure that we continue to grow, sustain the hospital and provide services for all the communities that also surround us.”
Hester said the primary care clinic will have a diagnostic X-ray suite and seven exam rooms in its 3,500 square feet.
“The goal over time is to rotate specialists through this clinic along with the primary care services,” he said. “And to keep growing and support the hospital.”
He said it will provide quick medical access to residents of the east end of the county but also support residents in Bryan and McIntosh County due to its location near I-95. He said it will be beneficial to the industrial companies located at Trade Port East and could be a boom for the local economy.
“We want to partner with the industry leaders in this area too,” he said. “That’s good for us, it’s good for the economy and it’s good for Hinesville and Midway.”
Hester said the land was purchased in 2011. The project is primarily being funded by Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds.
Commissioner Marion Stevens said the clinic would not have been possible without SPLOST funds and thanked the community for the supporting the referendum.
“I’ve been on the board for 19 years and I’ve seen SPLOST actually work,” he said.
LRMC Board Chair James Rogers said the project will advance health care in Liberty County.
“I’m excited about it,” Rogers said but also added he was feeling a bit somber in light of a local recent tragedy.
On Dec. 5, a Liberty County school bus veered off the road in the Gum Branch area. The wreck killed Cambria Shuman, 5, injured 22 other students and bus driver Evelyn Rodriguez, 62. The accident remains under investigation.
“My heart is breaking so right now I just need to say some other things,” Rogers said. “What happened yesterday…we plan for it…we study about it…you think you are prepared…you run drills…But when it really happens and there are kids involved…I mean I just have to say thank you to a bunch of people.”
Rogers went on to recognize the first responders, police officers and EMS personnel who were quick in dispatching emergency care at the accident scene.
“Our EMS staff was amazing,” he said.
LCBOC Chair Donald Lovette said the completion of the clinic remains a top priority. He said the industrial companies at Trade Port East will have a higher level of comfort knowing there is a medical facility nearby should any of their staff be in need. He said he applauded the foresight of the Hospital Authority and all the community leaders in moving the project ahead.
The clinic is expected to open in May 2018.