Dr. Fran Witt, president of Effingham Health System, came to the health care facility with a vision to “transform health care in Effingham County.”
Recently, she achieved one of the goals on her wish list.
Witt, along with staff members and Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns, celebrated the opening of Effingham Pediatrics on Georgia 21 in Springfield during a groundbreaking ceremony. The 5,100-square-foot facility will specialize in primary care for children.
“This is going to pay dividends,” said Burns, an Effingham native. “We are proud of the hospital and the health care that is provided not only for Effingham but Southeast Georgia.”
The unit features seven rooms, which allows the staff to see 56 patients per day.
“Our pediatrics has been an important part of the hospital’s mission but this is especially important,” said Burns. “They have their own space now. We are excited to expand this outreach to young people in the county.”
Witt said statistics showed a significant uptick in patients over the last five years, prompting the expansion. The hospital has seen a 425% increase in volume since 2018.
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“We reached capacity in the practice that we were currently in,” said Witt. “We started with maybe two to three exam rooms. It was a startup initiative. I think the excitement around all of this is the fact that we decided to do something in the community that was truly needed. We have gone from an annual of 8,082 visits to now 14,114.”
Witt said the timing could not be more perfect as they prepared for the influx of newcomers moving to the county.
“When we decided to do this, we were responding to the current growth,” said Witt. “Now that we have discovered that Hyundai is in our backyard and people are starting to migrate to this area, it makes it even more meaningful for us to be able to provide access.”
Looking ahead, Witt hopes to expand hospital services that were dormant during the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent study revealed local residents want greater access to care for conditions such as heart disease.
“We’re looking at services that support wellness and prevention,” said Witt.
The new pediatric center was funded solely by Effingham Hospital. The Effingham Foundation System is committed to a three-year campaign to help facilitate the growth of the new unit moving forward. Witt declined to share how much the hospital invested in the new venture.
“This pediatric center is evidence of transformation,” said Witt.
Latrice Williams is a general assignment reporter covering Bryan and Effingham County. She can be reached at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Effingham Health System opens new pediatric center