TIFTON — Tift Regional Medical Center held a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday for a new $152 million expansion project, and to unveil Southwell as the new name for the Tift Regional Health System.

The hospital is expanding with a new, four-story tower on 18th Street that will include an emergency center and inpatient units. TRMC President/CEO Christopher Dorman also announced that facilities in Tifton, Cook Medical Center and the system’s 25 physician practices will now be linked together with the brand name Southwell.

“We recently restructured as a not-for-profit entity in order to grow our services and expand our geographic footprint,” Dorman said. “We are already providing care in several other communities outside Tift County. We wanted to create a system name that can be appreciated everywhere we establish services.

“Over the coming months and years, we will implement the new Southwell logo and corporate identity standards at our various facilities. Though we have a new name for our overall system, our network of care is still comprised of the same great people. We remain a locally-operated health care institution dedicated to providing exceptional care.”

Dorman stressed that TRMC has not been acquired.

“We just have a new system name to connect all our services together,” he said. “Tift Regional Medical Center will remain Tift Regional Medical Center, but it is now an important hub of the Southwell family of services.”

Jimmy Allen, chairman of the Southwell Board of Directors, said the new tower expansion at TRMC is important in meeting the growing medical needs in the region.

“The first floor of the new tower will be our new emergency center,” Allen said. “Our current ER was originally designed to accommodate about 20,000 patients per year; we currently see close to 50,000 patients per year. That is how fast we are growing. The new expansion will help enhance the emergency care we provide for the community.”

Allen said the second, third and fourth levels of the new tower will be inpatient units, including a new location for the hospital’s intensive care unit. The entire tower will cover approximately 263,000 square feet.

“The project will also include some renovations to the current facility to make a seamless connection to the new building, dramatically changing the main entrance of the hospital,” he said.

To accommodate the expansion and new parking areas, TRMC worked with the city of Tifton and Tift County to close a part of 18th Street and to reroute a portion of John Orr Drive.

The U.S. Department of Agricultural Rural Development Program is providing financing for 60 percent of the project with a bridge loan through TD Bank. The architectural designers are Perkins & Will, the project manager is Adams Management Services Corporation and the general contractors are JE Dunn and Jones Construction.

Dorman said the name Southwell promotes healthy living in the South but is also a reference to B.L. Southwell, the first and longest-serving chairman of the Hospital Authority of Tift County. He served as chairman from 1947 to 1993.

“Mr. Southwell was an animal research scientist at the Coastal Plain Experiment Station in Tifton who volunteered his time, knowledge and skills to enhance the community,” Dorman said. “Our progressive health care institution is what it is today by the virtue of Mr. Southwell’s vision and leadership.”

Dorman said the goal is to capitalize on Tift Regional’s success and take it even further by leveraging the new Southwell name into a brand that is synonymous with high-quality care.

“I am excited at what our future holds,” he said.

Allen added that Tifton, Tift County and all of south-central Georgia will be able to take pride in the new emergency center and patient tower at TRMC.

“This new facility will take patient care to a whole new level,” he said.

In addition to remarks provided by Dorman and Allen at the ceremony, an official groundbreaking was held with hospital and government leaders. Attendees were able to view exterior and interior renderings of the new expansion and enjoy refreshments and giveaways.

More than 100 people from the hospital and community were in attendance.

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