CHI Memorial is set to start outpatient surgery this week at the health system's medical office complex along Battlefield Parkway between Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe in Catoosa County, Georgia.
The revamped surgery center is housed within the building formerly owned by Hutcheson Medical Center, which closed in 2015 and was purchased by Memorial in 2017.
The facility includes two "GI labs" to conduct endoscopy procedures and two operating rooms equipped to perform a range of minimally invasive outpatient surgeries, such as breast surgery, gallbladder removal, gynecologic surgery, hernia repair, plastic surgery, urologic surgery and general surgery.
"This really is a culmination of a vision that was set forth many years ago and is now one step in our continued vision of restoring health care services to this community. As many of you know, we spent many years building a primary care base and a specialty base," Janelle Reilly, chief executive officer at CHI Memorial, said during an opening event. "We recently opened radiation oncology services here, imaging services here, sleep services here, and now another step is our surgery services. This is a big day for us and a continuation of that vision that we've been setting forth."
Memorial had planned to restart outpatient surgery at the location since purchasing the ambulatory surgery center, which Hutcheson operated from 2004-15. Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga tried to block those efforts by attempting to get state approval to open its own surgery center along the parkway — which has become a hub of new medical offices and physician practices in recent years.
Ultimately, the Georgia Department of Community Health ruled in favor of Memorial's project, which was supported by Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, and Catoosa County Commission Chairman Steven Henry.
Sherry Fusco, Memorial's senior vice president of surgical services, said that "what stands out most" about the facility is that the staff lives and works in the community, including many that worked at Hutcheson.
"They're so passionate about revitalizing the parkway opportunities that we have," Fusco said. "They're very committed — we have a lot of folks with longevity that have continued to be with us throughout all the changes and transitions, and we're just very proud to have them on staff and have them be a part of this."
Fusco said that Memorial plans to move all of its outpatient surgical and endoscopy services from the Georgia hospital to the revamped center.
"It's more about convenience and access for patients. What we hear from patients most frequently is they want services that are easy to access," she said, adding that the parkway facility allows for easier parking and is a smaller campus to navigate than the hospital.
Memorial anticipates that the most in-demand procedures initially will be GI/endoscopy and general surgery, including urology, Fusco said.
"We expect this location to thrive, definitely," she said. "We've had a lot of growth on the parkway from a lot of different specialties, and as the physician office building continues to get additional physicians as well, we expect that to continue to grow. So we're excited. We think we're in the right space at the right time, and we're ready to get going."
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