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Long-term acute care hospital's new building opens soon

Macon’s long-term acute-care hospital is about four months away from moving into its own building and adding about 200 jobs to the local economy.

Regency Hospital of Central Georgia has been housed on the second floor of The Children’s Hospital at The Medical Center of Central Georgia since it was created in 2004.

Construction is under way at Regency’s new home at the corner of Coliseum Drive and Emery Highway. The facility, valued at about $12.5 million, is expected to open in January.

“We are full every day,” in the current facility, said CEO Mike Boggs. “As of (Tuesday) we are full with about six patients who are going to be ready for admission in a day or so.”

Regency is an extended-stay facility for patients who are catastrophically ill and most are non-ambulatory. It works with several area hospitals that transfer some of their patients to the facility.

“If we can’t time it just right, there is always the possibility of (patients) going somewhere else,” which is inconvenient for patients and their families, Boggs said.

Regency currently has 20,097 square feet for offices and 34 beds at The Children’s Hospital. It bought an existing 17,000-square-foot office building on Coliseum Drive and an adjacent vacant lot about three years ago. A two-story, 40,000-square-foot building has been under construction on that lot since February and is connected to the existing structure.

The existing building will be used for administrative offices, and very little work had to be done except for adding a cafeteria and kitchen in the basement, Boggs said.

“It’s largely almost ready to go,” he said.

The building under construction will accommodate 60 beds and various hospital functions such as labs, radiology and pharmacy.

Since Regency is nearly doubling the number of beds, it will need to add about 200 jobs, Boggs said. It now employs about 170 workers with a payroll of about $8.5 million.

“I expect the first search will begin in about 30 days,” Boggs said. One of the first positions to be filled is for a chief hospital engineer.

The search for other employees such as housekeepers, food service workers, nurses, therapists and others will likely begin in early- to mid-November.

“We will announce it online (at www. regencyhospital.com/locations/georgia-central-georgia.aspx) and probably in a newspaper ad,” Boggs said.

There are about 325 long-term acute-care hospitals like this around the country, Boggs said. In Georgia, other than Regency in Macon, there are similar hospitals in Savannah, Augusta, Athens, Columbus, Rome and about six in Atlanta.

Patients stay an average of 30 days.

“Medicare, as payor for 75 to 80 percent of our patients, requires a minimum stay average of 25 days,” Boggs said. “We are considerably above that average here in Macon.”

Most of its admissions come from Bibb County, he said.

“The Medical Center of Central Georgia is our most frequent referral, mainly because of its size and volume of patients and its function in the area as a referral hospital,” Boggs said.

The second greatest source is from Houston Medical Center, then the Coliseum Medical System, Oconee Regional Medical Center in Milledgeville and Taylor Regional Hospital in Hawkinsville, he said.

Regency’s parent company, Regency Hospital Co., is being acquired by Select Medical Holdings Corp., based in Pennsylvania, but that deal should not affect the Macon facility, Boggs said.

“I don’t think it will mean much,” he said. “I think it will be business as usual.”

While Boggs, 59, is fairly new at Regency — he was the interim CEO from April until July when the title became permanent — he is not new to leading a hospital. He was the head of Coliseum Health System in Macon for about 13 years, leaving in 2005.

“Then I did something completely different,” he said.

He got into the wholesale landscaping business with a friend, Darrell Floyd, who has a background in landscaping. They own a container nursery off Mumford Road in Macon, called Backwater Nursery, and a field nursery, called Lowgrove Farm, in Jeffersonville.

“But I got a little homesick for something like this, and the Regency opportunity popped up,” said Boggs, although he remains a co-owner of the landscaping company.

Children’s Hospital to fill space

When Regency moves out of the Children’s Hospital, the space is not expected to remain empty.

“The timing is working out very well,” said Don Faulk, CEO of The Medical Center of Central Georgia. “We knew we would need (that space) for children’s services and we are in fact at that point. ... We probably wouldn’t open up the second floor right off, but it gives us that growth potential.”

Two new pediatric surgeons recently moved into the Macon area: Dr. Bryan Weidner who came in March from Orlando, Fla., and Dr. Joshua Glenn who came in July from Nashville, Tenn.

“I think they will have a lot of business and will be taking care of a lot of children in the coming years,” Faulk said. “Their practices are ramping up so we know we will need the beds.”

Recently .The Medical Center began a new strategic planning process for what will be needed in five to 10 years at the Children’s Hospital, he said. In the short run it will need to ramp up the number of beds, so that second floor space will be used.

“It’s nice working with Mike on this,” Faulk said. “We have worked very closely with Regency. We are happy to see them find a home, and we look forward to more capacity in Macon. That’s a win for us.”

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.

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