September 15, 2022–10:55 a.m.
State, local, and Atrium Health officials, including Gov. Brian Kemp, celebrated the groundbreaking Tuesday for Atrium Health Floyd’s freestanding emergency department (FSED) in Trion. The facility will provide 24/7 emergency care to residents of Summerville, Trion, Lyerly, Menlo, and surrounding communities.
The $18.4 million FSED will be located next to Walmart on U.S. Highway 27 and will provide convenient and easy access to residents countywide. The facility will include six treatment rooms along with onsite laboratory and imaging services, including an x-ray and a computed tomography (CT) scanner.
It will employ an estimated 44 people once open in 2023.
“Thank you for the opportunity to join you for the groundbreaking of the very first ground-up, freestanding emergency department in Georgia and the only freestanding emergency department dedicated to rural health,” said Kemp, who spoke to the crowd that gathered where the facility will be constructed. “This emergency room is going to move the families of this county toward a healthier life.It will improve quality of life; it will make Chattooga County more attractive to business and industry and it will lower the mortality rates for this county.”
Kurt Stuenkel, president, and CEO of Atrium Health Floyd and executive vice president of Atrium Health said the project would not have been possible without the leadership and vision of Governor Kemp and his administration.
“There are no specific rules for freestanding emergency departments, but the Department of Community Health clearly saw how this innovative project will benefit residents of rural Chattooga County and surrounding areas. They approved it,” Stuenkel said.
Other state and local leaders, including State Sen. Jeff Mullis and Blake Elsberry, Chattooga County’s sole commissioner, were enthusiastic supporters of this project, giving time and energy in the application and approval process. Stuenkel also credited Elsberry with “getting it all started” when he approached Atrium Health Floyd with his desire to have such a facility last year.
Stuenkel said Atrium Health Floyd got the opportunity to show that it is an engaged community partner when EMS teammates showed up during Labor Day weekend flooding in Summerville to help first responders who were working long hours to provide aid to residents.
Elsberry said he is thankful the FSED has moved forward so quickly.
“Your willingness to invest in our community and the citizens of Chattooga County will save lives for years to come,” Elsberry said. “This project will serve as a blueprint for other communities across the state facing the same issues of accessibility that Chattooga County is facing.”
Collin Lane, senior vice president of Atrium Health’s facilities management group, pledged that the building would be completed in six months and would likely open next summer.
“Construction of the freestanding emergency department will be innovative, using manufacturing to complete most of the construction in a controlled environment in Bessemer, Alabama. This innovative construction methodology, called pre-fabrication, leads to higher quality, faster delivery, reduces the likelihood of construction injuries, mitigates supply chain disruptions, and improves access to limited construction labor,” Lane said.
Mullis said the facility is going to be a great thing, not just for Chattooga County residents but for all the region’s residents.
“What a great day,” he said.
Atrium Health Floyd has made other significant investments in Chattooga County. In September, Atrium Health Floyd EMS became the official ambulance service provider there, positioning five ambulances across the county with 35 teammates. The service represents more than a $1 million investment in new vehicles and equipment.
When appropriate, Atrium Health Floyd EMS will take Chattooga County patients to the FSED. Also, Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center in Rome is home to the region’s only state-designated Level II Trauma Center and Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In June, the hospital officially opened a helipad that will help trauma patients receive lifesaving treatment more quickly.
Atrium Health Floyd also provides on-site EMS for all home football games at Chattooga High School and Trion High School. These first-responder teams also serve as support for Atrium Health Floyd’s school-based certified athletic trainers. Atrium Health Floyd’s partnership with first responders in Chattooga County will provide training for rescue and lifesaving procedures.