The renovation project construction has begun for Optim Medical Center — Screven as officials project the scheduled eight-month project will transform key parts of the hospital that celebrates its 70th year of existence this year.
Although it will undergo a refurbishment, all the hospital departments and services are expected to remain open and operational without interruption.
Optim Medical Center — Screven kicked off the renovation project with a ceremony on July 20 with dozens of community leaders inside the hospital with the rainy conditions outside. Using the Screven County Chamber of Commerce’s oversized scissors, a yellow caution tape was snipped to symbolize the begin of construction.
“This is an exciting time and a milestone event for our team. We’ve had a difficult 18 months,” Optim Medical Center-Screven Chief Executive Officer Lagina Evans told the crowd packed into the hallway near the administrative office and physical therapy department.
“We have an awesome, awesome team,” Evans said.
Since February 2020, the local hospital employees have endured the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The staff also had to wonder about the hospital’s future in Sylvania as the Screven County Commission debated whether to continue its funding assistance toward the medical facility’s indigent care expenses.
Additionally, the hospital changed its CEO from Suzie Doscher to Evans, who was born in the hospital and was promoted to her current role from the nursing department.
Dating back to Bob Sellers, the CEO prior to Doscher, the medical center has received updates inside and outside the 215 Mims Road facility.
Hospital officials say this project shows Optim Medical Center-Screven’s commitment to keep high-quality care local with its support of healthcare for the greater Screven County region.
“This shows they are invested in our community and in this hospital,” said Evans of Optim. Additionally in a separate project, the Sylvania hospital continues to accept monetary donations toward the revamp of its outdoors courtyard.
“You will see construction fencing up,” Evans said. “We want to assure you that we are still open and will continue to provide excellent care for our patients through the entire project.”
The overall work plan includes multiple improvements and changes to the design and function of the hospital with the major project being the construction of an entirely new emergency department.
The updated emergency department will be relocated from its decades-old site at the facility. The modification is intended to provide a more accessible entrance for patients and ambulances; offer a better patient flow and efficiency; and enhance the safety, comfort and privacy for emergency room patients and their families.
Along with the relocation of the existing emergency department, the project improvements also include the expanded and remodeled entryway; and enhanced ventilation system.
As a result of COVID-19, hospital officials said the importance of the reduction of exposure to airborne illnesses and the care for those stricken with such illnesses became ever more present.
Additional improvements, officials say, will include more negative air pressure rooms plus the installation of an enhanced ventilation system as the medical facility continues to do what is necessary for the care for those who may need future treatment in the community.
“Fortunately and unfortunately because of COVID, we have learned some things,” said Evans noting the need for more ventilation and air pressure rooms.
“It has been a dream for us for a couple of years to give more privacy, more ventilation, and more negative pressure,” she said. “I think it will be great for the hospital and great for the community.”
While the coronavirus certainly had its impact on Screven County with its 848 reported positive cases and 21 deaths, the hospital also dealt with its concerns of if the annual funding from the county…