New Carolina Forest emergency department expected to open by September | Carolina Forest

 New Carolina Forest emergency department expected to open by September | Carolina Forest

Construction crews began work on Grand Strand Medical Center’s Carolina Forest emergency department this week.

The 11,000-square-foot facility is expected to be finished by the summer, and Grand Strand staff hope to begin serving patients there in August or September. The building will have 10 beds and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We are thrilled to expand our emergency care to meet the needs of one of our fastest-growing communities,” said Dr. George Helmrich, Grand Strand’s chief medical officer, in a prepared statement. “We are dedicated to ensuring that our families in Carolina Forest and beyond receive the highest quality of care they need, close to home, to quickly recover and return to their daily life. The experience with our physicians, nurses and other clinicians is just one of the reasons families across the region choose Grand Strand Health for their emergency care.”

A formal groundbreaking ceremony is planned for Monday afternoon, Grand Strand spokeswoman Katie Maclay said in an email.

Just getting to this point has been a years-long process for the healthcare provider.

Grand Strand, McLeod Health and Conway Medical Center all proposed building standalone emergency departments in Carolina Forest.

In January 2017, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) approved applications from Grand Strand and McLeod for their facilities. DHEC did not approve the CMC application. DHEC stood by its decision, but the three hospitals appealed to the Administrative Law Court.

Conway Medical Center not only challenged the state’s rejection of its proposal, but also the decision to support the plans of Grand Strand and McLeod. Grand Strand and McLeod sought to overturn the state’s decision in each other’s project. These types of legal disputes among hospitals are not unusual in South Carolina.

DHEC found Grand Strand and McLeod showed a need for additional medical services in the growing Carolina Forest community. DHEC officials said they had already approved an expansion of CMC’s emergency department at the main hospital in Conway and they determined that facility would meet the need highlighted in the hospital’s Carolina Forest application. 

The dispute led to a year and a half of legal wrangling, but eventually Grand Strand and McLeod agreed to end their court fight. McLeod added a $9.6 million emergency department to its campus on International Drive. It opened last year.

CMC appealed the state’s decision, but the case was dismissed in 2018.

Grand Strand’s plans originally called for constructing an $8.9 million facility at the intersection of Carolina Forest Boulevard, Wiregrass Road and Oakheart Road. The healthcare provider now says the total cost will be $10 million.

Construction crews showed up at the Grand Strand site on Monday.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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