Trident Health is moving forward with plans to upgrade pediatric facilities at the Summerville Medical Center while a proposal to build a $26 million hospital expansion on site remains stalled in court.
The hospital system announced this week that it will add a 4,000-square-foot pediatric annex to the medical center’s emergency department. It also will repurpose a 3,500-square-foot space on the hospital’s second floor as an in-patient unit for children and teens under 17.
The new facilities are designed to be kid-friendly, complete with gaming systems and colorful artwork. They will allow minors to be processed separately from adults when they arrive at the hospital.
Summerville Medical Center CEO Lou Caputo said the $3.5 million pediatric expansion and redesign were conceived in 2011.
“We were installing software in our ER about a year and half ago that aided caregivers in pediatric dosing of medicines — something that was done manually for years. They could now use the software to more accurately dose pediatric medications. It was a great patient safety improvement. It made us pause for minute,” Caputo said.
“We need to invest more in our pediatric care. We need to improve our facilities. We need to invest in great training for our nurses and physicians and really make an investment in this community for kids so they can receive this care locally and not have to travel to MUSC or other children’s hospitals.”
The new pediatric facilities will be up and running by late fall, Caputo said.
Meanwhile, plans to build a new three-story tower and add 30 patient beds at the Summerville Medical Center are on hold. In 2011, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control granted Trident Health permission to expand the medical center, but Roper St. Francis Healthcare appealed the decision, arguing that Trident had not made a sufficient case for the project.
Roper St. Francis and Trident also have been entangled in another years-long legal battle over which system should be allowed to build a new hospital in Berkeley County. Last year a judge ruled that the county could support two facilities, but Trident President and CEO Todd Gallati vowed to appeal the decision. Neither hospital can move forward until the dispute is settled.
An administrative law judge is scheduled to hear the case to expand the Summerville Medical Center in March.
Trident spokesman Bob Behanian said the scope of the pediatric upgrades does not require health department approval.