The Roper Hospital Diagnostics and emergency facility in Northwoods relocated this week following continuous brushes with flooding.
“We knew we had to find a new facility that was high and dry,” said Elisa Cooper, director of property management for Roper St. Francis Healthcare.
Originally located on Northwoods Boulevard, the new location is based at 7832 Rivers Ave. just across the street from Northwoods Mall.
The push for a new facility came after the old building had to be closed to the public twice because of water damage. The first was during the 2015 flooding in the Lowcountry. The second was during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Each time Cooper said they were closed to the public for over two months.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control had advised "there would be a chance that we could not reopen if we had flooded a third time," Cooper said.
One of the issues was the amount of work needed to repair flooding damage. Cooper said when walls get wet, they don't dry and need to be replaced.
With the new facility, they wanted to make sure they were in an area that was a little more protected. Being off Rivers Avenue, Cooper said the new building sits higher than Northwoods.
"The old facility was the drain at the bottom of the sink," she said.
They were also able to add additional structural support Cooper said. This way, the new building can withstand severe weather a little better.
“There would be no risk of rising water in my mind," she said.
Another concern with the previous building was the size and layout. At their old facility there were seeing a high patient population. Staff members explained they didn't have the best layout to address those patients.
Joy Huntington, the director of emergency services for Roper St. Francis Healthcare, said the staff was seeing 100 patients a day in the rather small facility. Considering they also provide diagnostic services in addition to emergency services, Huntington explained that it made seeing all the patients very difficult.
She said they still have the same number of exam rooms at the new location as they did the old. The difference is that the facility is larger and there is more room for multiple emergency vehicles.
"The idea is that we will be more efficient," she said.
Roper also added new diagnostic equipment to the facility. This included equipment like wheelchair accessible X-ray equipment and a new CT scanner. Like the old facility, the new location will provide 24-hour emergency service to the community.
The staff is also excited that the new location is a lot more visible and accessible. The new location is next to a traffic light and is a lot less hidden then the previous building.
Though they have the same number of exam rooms, the staff hopes that they can expand in the future.
One of the benefits of the new facility was the possibility of growth. They currently have four additional exam rooms they are hoping to get approval to use in the future.
"We're excited for sure, we're excited to expand," said Dr. Daniel Lewis, the physician medical director for the new facility. "I think the patient experience will be better."