AMERICUS, GA - Stegenga + PARTNERS, an architecture practice for physician and hospital-based clients and long-term care providers, has announced the completion and grand opening of a 76-bed hospital in Americus, GA. The opening comes just 13 months after a tornado ripped through the South Georgia town of 17,000, killing two people and destroying Sumter Regional Hospital and hundreds of homes and businesses.
"The hospital took a direct hit from the tornado. Debris was everywhere, and we had to evacuate the 54 patients to hospitals in Albany, Columbus, and Macon, GA," says Stephen Machen, Chief Operating Officer of Sumter Regional Hospital. "Once the hospital was cleared, the next question was: is it safe and structurally secure?"
Hospital management estimated that a replacement hospital would take 3years to build, but the community could not wait that long for a facility. Sumter Regional Hospital chose Stegenga + PARTNERS to design and lead the project development of a full-service hospital. The team was to design, program, and build a facility in a community recovering from a natural disaster, and in significantly less time than typically afforded to construct a comparable facility. In order to successfully complete this unprecedented project, Stegenga worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which announced it would fund the construction of the hospital, Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), hospital executives, and Sunrise Solutions, the construction company responsible for buildifng the structure.
"Nobody had done this before. We had to design and construct a hospital in a year," said Paul W. Stegenga, AIA, CEO of Stegenga + PARTNERS. "Given the compressed time frame and the need to return healthcare to the seven-county area around Americus, we could not use conventional construction methods."
With recommendations from FEMA, Stegenga + PARTNERS and Sumter Regional Hospital looked to a company called COGIM, based in Rome, Italy. The company produces pre-fabricated steel framed and walled units. COGIM products are primarily utilized by military logistic support and emergency response housing.
Used on a limited scale to provide emergency housing following Hurricane Katrina, the COGIM products had never been used in the United States for a project of this scope or scale. Stegenga developed an innovative design for the full-service hospital using 354 COGIM modules stacked next to each other. The plan included five operating rooms, labor and delivery rooms, a nursery, emergency department, intensive care unit, diagnostic imaging facility, patient rooms, and mechanical food service departments.
While modular in approach, it was critical for the design of Sumter Regional Hospital East (SRHEast) to not only look like, but also function as well as any conventionally built hospital. "People do not necessarily select their healthcare facility because it is attractive. They select it based on high-quality care. But the aesthetics of the units still needed to be appealing in order instill confidence in the high-quality project," says Stegenga.
Once inside the facility, the modular units transform into a seamless healthcare facility. "SRHEast is built as strongly as the original building," says Machen. "In fact, the facility is better than what we had in the previous hospital. The patient rooms are larger and private, the OR rooms are much larger, the finishes are better, and now all the services surround the patient."
The original Sumter Regional Hospital was a 143-bed facility constructed over three phases beginning in 1953. Construction of the replacement hospital is expected to begin in late 2008 to early 2009. With the completion of the permanent facility, Sumter Regional Hospital East will be decommissioned, disassembled, and conceivably moved to a new location with a similar need.