Cox Schepp Construction

When two area hospitals were preparing to close, plans were set in motion to build a new hospital in Lavonia, Ga. The realities of how to fund and operate the new facility were the main issues on the table. 

Where most hospitals are self-owned and managed, the idea was to establish a partnership between the healthcare system and the primary care physicians and new specialists. In this instance, the surrounding communities would join forces with the Ty Cobb Healthcare System (TCHS) of Royston, Ga., and northeast Georgia physicians to create the Ty Cobb Regional Medical Center (TCRMC).

The project has led to the establishment of NGTC Health Properties LLC, a real estate company that financed, is developing and will own the hospital, including the land and building. TCHS has created TCRMC, a nonprofit company to operate the hospital. 

A third entity, a joint venture between the subscribing physicians and TCHS, is expected to manage the hospital. 

“This is a very unique project,” claims Larry Unger, CEO of Medical Partners of America, Atlanta, Ga. “We have 57 family practitioners and specialists who are dedicated to the success of this hospital.” He adds that not only will the new hospital attract more specialists and other medical professionals to the area, it will create economic growth for Lavonia and the surrounding communities. 

In addition to medical companies, he anticipates other support businesses will want to locate near the hospital campus, all of which is at the Interstate 85 and Highway 17 interchange and the city of Lavonia.

The joint venture secured a 39-acre parcel of land in Lavonia that allows room for future expansion. In addition, it is in the process of acquiring parcels contiguous to the hospital site. Phase I is a 154,500-square-foot, 56-bed full-service general acute care facility. 

In addition, the new facility will include four operating rooms and 14 emergency room stations. State-of-the-art medical technology equipment will offer MRI, CT and digital mammography. Wellness and rehabilitation services also will be part of the new facility’s design. “It will be a full-service general hospital,” Unger stresses.

Also integrated into the overall hospital campus is a separate 33,000-square-foot medical office building owned by physicians as a separate company.

Planning for the Future

Throughout the planning process, every aspect of the building’s design was critiqued in regard to cost, design, layout efficiency and ease of maintenance. 

“Each facet of the project has been critiqued by our teams,” Unger says. “We met with the contractor, architect, subcontractors and even physician practice staff throughout the entire design process.” 

For example, when the cardiology diagnostic area was being designed, planners consulted both doctors and their office technologists to determine the optimum layout. 

“The technologists see the inefficiencies in the work areas,” Unger explains. “Our team knew it would be beneficial to have their input, as well.”

To minimize costs, planners weighed the use of technology vs. more traditional methods. 

“As opposed to computer kiosks to guide people through the facility, we opted for very modern and attractive signage,” Unger says. “This gave us a more competitive solution and helped control costs.”

As another cost-saving measure, crews have delayed placing asphalt surfacing at the site in hopes the price will decrease.

“Working as a team with the Georgia DOT, we’re trying to see how far we can push that portion of the project out to take advantage of a possible price reduction,” Unger says. “Every team is devoted to creating a higher-quality, lower-cost solution for the marketplace.”

Choosing interior finishes that promote a healing atmosphere, the designers opted for warm tones and wood to give patients the feeling of being at home. The facility also was designed with an abundance of glass to provide an ample flow of natural light. The owners considered ease of maintenance and durability in product selection.

“We chose a brushed aluminum finish for the lobby columns,” Unger says. “This gave a modern look to the design that offered a good lifecycle, but could be easily maintained.”

Construction began in December 2010 and is following an aggressive 16-month schedule. The project’s general contractor is Cox Schepp Construction, Freese Division, which has been instrumental in keeping the project on schedule, Unger says. 

“We lost about 35 days since January [2011] due to rain and snow storms, but the contractors are still focused on completing the project on time,” he explains.  

The contractor’s can-do attitude as well as its willingness to work weekends and after hours show its commitment to completing this project on time, he adds.

Ongoing Success

The subcontractors have been instrumental to the project’s ongoing success, Unger asserts.

“Throughout the design process, they were offering design and cost solutions whether it was roofing, flooring or mechanical systems,” he says. “They helped re-examine the systems and processes to improve the final design.”

Unger cites Simpson Trucking & Grading, Inc., Gainesville, Ga., as a tremendous team player on this project. 

“They continually made suggestions regarding the most efficient ways to pile dirt so it didn’t have to be moved two or three times,” he declares. “They also helped us with the retention pond design to save some time.”

“We have an exceptional group of companies working on this project,” Unger continues. “These people have been true partners to help us get the job done.” 

Key partners on the project have included E&H Steel Corporation and Rawlins Mechanical Contractors.

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