The Medical University of South Carolina is moving forward with plans to build a hospital along the state line near Charlotte, about a year after it bought another hospital nearby.
The health system's board of trustees on Thursday approved a $10 million purchase of 87 acres in an unincorporated town less than a mile from the border with North Carolina.
The full-service hospital will complement the 211-bed Lancaster Medical Center that MUSC bought as part of a package deal.
MUSC Health CEO Dr. Pat Cawley said a new facility in Indian Land would be in the northern part of Lancaster County, where more of the area's population lives.
Atrium Health, a Charlotte-based nonprofit that operates 40 hospitals across the Carolinas, has hospitals across the border in nearby Pineville and Waxhaw.
Cawley secured initial approval for the project from the board in October. He said the hospital system has not yet applied for permission from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, which regulates the construction of new health care facilities within the state. The process can be time-consuming because it allows competitors to challenge expansion plans.
The full cost of the Indian Land project has not been disclosed. If it moves forward, the campus will house an emergency department, operating rooms, and imaging and outpatient care services.
Formerly known as the Springs Memorial, MUSC purchased Lancaster Medical Center from Community Health Systems under a $137 million deal that also included hospitals in Florence, Mullins and Chester.
The population in Lancaster is growing at one of the fastest rates in the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but most of that is concentrated in the northern section of the county. Cawley said MUSC could benefit by serving the growing base of commuters close to Charlotte.
"You need to be where the patients are," Cawley said. "Patients seek the care closest to them."
Also Thursday, the MUSC board selected an architecture firm to design a new hospital in the Pee Dee region.
The project has been in the works for about a year. MUSC plans to replace the Williamsburg Regional and Lake City Community hospitals with a brand-new medical center along U.S. Highway 52 between Kingstree and Lake City for an estimated $50 million.
The existing facilities are about 20 miles apart, and they have struggled financially. Williamsburg Regional has been operating from a temporary building after flooding in 2015 took its hospital out of service.