The 25-bed critical access hospital will be located on Hwy. 278 East near Kelly Road on 45 acres of land.
Currently, Polk Medical Center, an affiliate of Floyd Medical Center, is located at 424 North Main Street in Cedartown.
Management of Polk’s hospital recently transitioned from Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) to Floyd Healthcare Management (FHM) on April 1, 2012.
FHM is the parent company that operates both Floyd Medical Center and Polk Medical Center. However, Polk Medical Center is still owned by the Cedartown-Polk County Hospital Authority.
Along with the transfer of management came a promise by Floyd to construct a new hospital in Polk County.
Two operating rooms will be included in the new facility and a separate medical office building for physicians will also be constructed.
The plans allow for future growth and expansion of the hospital itself, along with the possibility of healthcare retail development in the coming years.
According to Kurt Stuenkel, CEO of Floyd Medical, the Cedartown-Polk County Hospital Authority will continue to own and hold titles to the hospital.
Polk Medical Center, Inc. (PMCI), a newly-formed non-profit nine member body, oversees the day-to-day operations of the current hospital and will continue in that role once the new hospital is complete.
PMCI is made of six members of the Cedartown-Polk County Hospital Authority and three members of Floyd Healthcare Management.
Governance of the hospital operations will remain local, Stuenkel emphasized.
The construction of the new hospital signals the beginning of a 35-year lease agreement between the Hospital Authority of Floyd County and the Cedartown-Polk County Hospital Authority and PMCI.
Stuenkel along with Dan Sweitzer, vice president of market development for Floyd Medical Center, recently spoke before members of the Cedartown-Polk Hospital Authority and the Polk County Commission.
“Basically, we’re here to talk about the Polk Medical Center and the Floyd Medical Center affiliation,” Stuenkel said. “We want to open the lines of communication to effectively address the needs of Polk County’s citizens.”
In 2011, once the Cedartown-Polk County Hospital Authority made the decision not to continue an exclusive lease extension with HCA, the authority opened up the table for competitive proposals in order to seek a healthcare provider.
Proposals were narrowed down to two: HCA and Floyd. The Cedartown-Polk County Hospital Authority selected Floyd’s proposal in August 2011.
Stuenkel pointed out that the key feature in Floyd’s proposal was a guarantee that money generated by Polk Medical Center will stay in the Polk County.
“All funds that come from the hospital will remain here to help support and meet the needs of Polk County. That was part of our commitment to you in our proposal, as well as building this new hospital.”
Stuenkel explained that the location of the new hospital was selected by the Polk authority because of it’s accessibility to both sides of
the county. “The location is right in the middle of the county. We’ve found that the east side of the county tends to migrate away from Polk for medical care,” he said. “With this new location, we hope to bring those people back in.”
The project is estimated to cost $40 million dollars and will be paid for by Floyd Healthcare Management.
According to Sweitzer, Polk Medical center, out of its operations, will reimburse FHM for the principal and interest payments over the years.
As to the current hospital, officials are discussing future uses once operations are moved to the new facility.
“There are a lot of potential uses for that structure,” Sweitzer said. “We want to make sure that it is used to the greatest advantage of the community.”
Sweitzer said that several organizations have toured the facility in recent weeks and others have expressed interest in the building.
Demolition of the building would be the bottom-of-the-barrel option, Sweitzer said.
Who and how of providing sewer remains unclear
Local officials are excited about the plans for the county’s new hospital, however the issue of providing sewer to the facility is a work in progress.
The property where the new hospital is planned does not have access to city sewer.
The initial agreement between Polk Medical and Floyd stipulates that access to sewer must be provided to the new hospital.
Currently, the city’s sewer line runs down East Avenue and stops at the Polk County Jail, about a mile short from the location of the new hospital.
So, what will be done in regard to providing sewer to the new hospital?
No one is quite certain yet.
County Manager Matt Denton said his office has not been approached with a formal request and that “a lot of speculation” has been tossed around concering the issue. “It’s the elephant in the room that no one is talking about.”
The easiest and less costly remedy would be to extend the current sewer line, but it’s not that simple.
Cedartown City Manager Bill Fann said expanding that line is not an option because it is already at full capacity. “That line can not take any more volume than it already has,” Fann said. “It will require a new line to be built, but no one has really sat down to hash this out.”
Construction of a new line would be an expensive undertaking, Fann said, as the new line would start at the city’s wastewater treatment plant on Branch Street, just behind Northwest Park, and end several miles away at the new hospital site on Hwy. 278.
Fann said that the city’s engineer completed design plans and specifications last week for the construction of a new, larger sewer line.
Those plans were submitted to the Department of Transportation for approval. That process should take about 30 days.
Once approved, the project would be sent out for bids and officials would then know what they are dealing with in relation to expese and a construction timeline, Fann explained.