The three-story Phoebe Digestive Health Center at Two Meredyth Place is a $35 million investment, Phoebe officials say. The grand opening for the facility was Oct. 28, 2012.
ALBANY, Ga. — What has been more than a year in the making has now become a reality.
The grand opening celebration for the Phoebe Digestive Health Center at Two Meredyth Place is being held from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. today.
The center, located at 2740 Ray Knight Way adjacent to One Meredyth Place, is described as an 85,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that will be beneficial toward bringing more gastroenterologists into the area. It represents a roughly $35 million investment, officials say.
The facility has a total of three floors. The first and second floors house Phoebe Gastroenterology Associates and Phoebe Endoscopy Center, respectively, while the third floor is being reserved for expansion.
The first floor features 30 exam rooms arranged into eight pods, 10 triage rooms and three clinical trial rooms. The second floor includes 26 prep/recovery bays, eight procedure rooms and Olympus high-definition scope technology.
The facility also has an outdoor terrace on the second floor overlooking a courtyard as well as free Wi-Fi hot spots.
Among the things Phoebe officials are particularly proud of are the lengths taken to ensure patient and family comfort, including private rooms and discreet exits.
"It's been a long process, but the wait was certainly worth it," said Michele Jones, director of Phoebe Gastroenterology Associates. "This is a specialty much-needed in this area, and because of that, we needed more space."
Officials also say that the center brings with it nearly 30 new jobs to the region. By January 2013, Phoebe Endoscopy Center is expected to employ at least 25 new staff members, including 13 new nurses, 10 technicians, an office coordinator and a unit secretary.
Phoebe Gastroenterology Associates is not planning to add any new positions before the end of the year, but the group expects to hire three or four new employees in various positions by next summer, adding to the total number of jobs created within the facility.
The first phase of new positions was filled by Oct. 1, the first day patients were being seen at the center. The second phase of positions is anticipated to be filled by mid-November so that the personnel can be fully trained by January, Phoebe officials say.
Currently, eight physicians, seven nurse practitioners and one physician assistant are based at the facility. On the first floor, roughly 125 patients are seen in a day, while 40-50 patients are seen in a day on the second floor, Jones said.
Among the physicians at the center is Dr. Michael Szpak, a gastroenterologist who also serves as a clinical faculty member with the Southwest Georgia Family Medicine Residency Program.
He said numerous patients waited to get their colonoscopies so they could be among the first to receive care at the new facility and give their feedback.
It was worth the wait, at least for most of them.
"The building itself is part of a holistic approach," said Szpak. "It facilitates families being at ease and patients being at ease.
"It's a facility made to be comfortable. The patients are happy."
Ground was broken on the center in August 2011, followed by a topping-out the following December. Officials have said the center was originally set to be opened in November, but the construction was able to get a few weeks ahead of schedule.
U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, will be in attendance at the grand opening today along with doctors, patients and board members who will speak at the ceremony, which will be followed by a ribbon-cutting and reception. Tours of the facility will be available for those in attendance.