Phoebe Sumter Medical Center will host a ribbon cutting and open house for its new facility. The new hospital will open almost five years after a F3 tornado destroyed the community hospital on March 1, 2007. During the time of the event, then President George W. Bush visited the disaster site and called it “total devastation.” The hospital has been on the road to recovery since that time.
AMERICUS, Ga. — What has been more than four years coming is finally a reality.
The ribbon-cutting for Phoebe Sumter Medical Center is being held at 11 a.m. today, bringing to Americus what Phoebe Sumter CEO Keith Petersen has said will be “the finest small hospital in America.”
The new hospital, which joins three other medical buildings that opened in the latter part of 2010 and in early 2011, is a 76-bed, 183,000-square-foot facility that replaces Sumter Regional Hospital, which was destroyed by a tornado that hit the area on March 1, 2007.
Since that time, the hospital has been operating out of a temporary facility on East Forsyth Street. In October 2008, Phoebe Putney Health System responded to a request from the Americus and Sumter County Hospital Authority to be a partner in rebuilding a permanent replacement.
As a result, Sumter Regional officially became Phoebe Sumter. The first day of operation for the newly-named facility was July 1, 2009.
Petersen; U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany; state Sen. George Hooks, D-Americus, and state Rep. Mike Cheokas, R-Americus, are expected to be among those in attendance at the ribbon-cutting.
The Phoebe Sumter complex is located at 126 U.S. Highway 280 West, near where the road intersects with U.S. Highway 19. The groundbreaking for it took place Nov. 3, 2009, drawing dignitaries such as former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter.
Not long ago, the Carters donated an original piece of art the former president painted to the Phoebe Sumter Foundation for display at the hospital. The painting is of the Wise Sanitarium in Plains, where he was born in 1924. That facility is currently named the Lillian G. Carter Nursing Home in honor of his mother, who worked at the sanitarium as an operating nurse.
The new hospital also features some remnants of the hospital it is replacing. One of the few items that survived the storm devastation without a scratch was the chapel’s stained glass windows, despite the extensive damage found near them.
The windows were preserved and are now in Phoebe Sumter’s chapel.
As the hospital’s construction progressed, it began to attract attention in Americus — and officials at Phoebe’s flagship hospital in Albany continued to receive updates. Roughly a year after the groundbreaking, officials hosted a topping-out ceremony for the facility.
Last month, the public was granted opportunities to take tours of the hospital.
The four-story facility, officials say, features all private rooms and a 26,000-square-foot roof garden. It will officially open its doors to patients on Friday.