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Phoebe Digestive Health Center to host grand opening

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.

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.

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Ernell Daniel, LPN, and Clinical Coordinator Melissa Bozeman, LPN, review patient information forms last week at Phoebe's new digestive health center. (Oct. 28, 2012)

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.

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This is the ground floor lobby of the Phoebe Digestive Health Center off Meredyth Drive. The facility includes 85,000 square feet.

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.

Comments

LashLarkin 2 years, 1 month ago

When I registered at the Phoebe Digestive Health Center, they took a mug shot with a digital camera. There are probably countless good reasons why they need a photo of my smiling face, but I found it troubling since we already are required to show photo IDs when we register. Was I giving Big Brother one more opportunity to invade my privacy?

In four or five visits to Phoebe Gastroenterology Associates, I've never seen a real doctor. I have complete confidence in nurse practitioners and physician assistants, but it would be comforting to speak to an MD occasionally. There are probably a lot of good reasons for this system - a shortage of gastroenterologists and an overwhelming number of patients.

As a patient, I have no way of judging the quality of care. Maybe it is normal for a patient with a potentially life-threatening condition to wait three days for an accurate diagnosis and a procedure to relieve the problem. That was my experience.

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Cartman 2 years, 1 month ago

They don't have to worry about me going there.

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D5S 2 years, 1 month ago

My wife, who has two years of experience as a Registered Nurse, and several friends who recently graduated from Darton's nursing program applied for sever positions at Pheobe. All of them ended up getting jobs at Tift Regional Medical Center because of Pheobe's excessive wait times and lack of communication with prospective hires. I mean, hey, after 4 weeks of not hearing anything who wouldn't start exploring other options.

What we found out, after my wife switched to Tift, was that Pheobe didn't seem to be hiring much at all currently and that many prospective Albany nurses were going to Tifton to work instead. We all know that Pheobe has a less than stellar reputation in its own community but I think there's an important correlation here. Congressman Bishop, who, since it is an election year, will show up to the grand opening, has said that he has brought thousands of jobs to our District.

Even in light of this clinic soon opening, I am still not impressed. I still ask, "where are the jobs, Sanford?"

Come on, folks. 20 years is long enough! Our Congressman clearly isn't part of the solution in Washington, and he clearly hasn't done enough to bring jobs back to this area. Especially considering all of the big companies that have left this District in the time he has been in office. Merck, Cooper, Delphi, Jamison, just to name a few, Those companies represent thousands of jobs. So, where are the jobs, Mr. Bishop?

This November, vote for the representation we deserve. Vote for a patriot NOT a politician. Vote for John House.

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