The Future of Hometown Health Care

November 16, 2020

Although coronavirus has brought some aspects in life to a standstill, the Southeast Georgia Health System Brunswick Campus Master Renovation and Expansion Project has not missed a beat. “We’ve been very fortunate that coronavirus has minimally impacted the project. Years of planning were dedicated to this project, and good planning often creates good luck,” said Tripp Stephens, vice president, Support Services, Southeast Georgia Health System.


Stephens explained, “From the start, we approached this project with the goal of minimizing its impact on hospital operations. When the pandemic started, we were fortunate that construction had progressed to a point where we could continue isolating construction activities from hospital operations and minimize the number of contractors entering the hospital.”


On November 9, the Health System celebrated a major milestone in its expansion project timeline, opening the new Surgical Services rooms, main entrance and lobby, and covered visitor/patient parking areas.


As part of its Master Renovation and Expansion Project, the Health System is expanding and renovating four significant areas of the Brunswick Campus:

  • Emergency Care Center
  • Surgical Services and Inpatient Tower
  • St. Simons Tower Inpatient Floors
  • Central Energy Plant and Infrastructure

The projected $142.2 million budget includes construction, infrastructure, medical equipment, and information technology as well as architecture and engineering fees.


“When the pandemic began, we shifted our construction efforts to prioritize aspects of the project that impacted direct patient care and emergency services,” said Michael D. Scherneck, president and CEO, Southeast Georgia Health System. “As a result, the inpatient floor of the new tower opened in July, three months ahead of schedule. The early opening allowed access to additional beds, which was instrumental in caring for the increase of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19.”


Also completed this summer was an overhaul of the hospital’s central energy plant. The plant houses heating and cooling systems, generators and other components vital to our operations. In preparation for the additional square footage being added to the hospital, the central energy plant required equipment with more capacity and greater energy efficiency to accommodate the expansion. “Our existing equipment was approaching end of life, so the timing worked well,” Stephens said.


Two major phases of construction were completed on the Health System’s Brunswick Campus Emergency Care Center (ECC) this summer as well, including the addition of the two trauma rooms, multiple patient treatment spaces, a new main entrance and lobby, patient registration, triage spaces, a CT scanner and an ambulance entrance. Additionally, directly connected to the ECC is a new elevator tower that will improve patient flow and provide direct connectivity to Surgical Services and the inpatient floors. This feature greatly enhances patient privacy. The Brunswick Campus ECC currently treats approximately 50,000 patients annually. That number is expected to increase as the community grows. When complete, the ECC’s expansion will add approximately 12,000 square feet and 15 new treatment rooms, including two trauma rooms. Construction is being completed in phases to prevent disruptions to patient care and is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2021.


Construction of the Surgical Services rooms wrapped up in October. Sixteen spacious, state-of-the-art operating suites will house newer technologies, including robotic surgical systems. Once the new tower is online, the existing surgical services area will also be renovated to provide additional post-anesthesia and pre- and post-recovery bays for greater privacy and patient comfort. Completion for that phase of construction is slated for early 2022. “We structured this space to enhance efficiency and cost savings while streamlining care and improving technology,” Stephens said.


The renovation of the two existing patient floors in the St. Simons Tower will include 32 spacious, aesthetically pleasing, private patient rooms per floor as well as internal zones for staff, the patient and family members. Construction on that phase is scheduled to begin in early 2021 and will finish by the end of 2022, with a year of construction activities anticipated per floor.


“So many elements of this project support our ability to recruit and retain the best physicians and caregivers, expand our services to the community, and ultimately, improve patient experience and the environment,” said Stephens.


To support the 20-20 Vision Campaign, please call Southeast Georgia Health System Foundation at 912-466-3360 or visit


About Southeast Georgia Health System
Southeast Georgia Health System is a not-for-profit health system comprised of two acute care hospitals, two long term care facilities, two comprehensive Cancer Care Centers and multiple specialty care centers, including orthopaedic and spine care, joint replacement, breast care, maternity, outpatient rehabilitation, sleep management and wound care. In 2020, the Brunswick Campus was rated High Performing in COPD and Heart Failure by the U.S. News & World Report. For more information, visit