The Southeast Georgia Health System hosted a topping off ceremony Friday to celebrate the symbolic completion of the first phase of the Brunswick hospital’s master renovation and expansion project.

The event took place across the street from the nearly completed steel frame structure that is currently standing tall over Parkwood Drive. Construction sounds were the background noise of the ceremony.

“Today’s event represents a major milestone for the health system, marking the symbolic completion of the structural phase of the project,” said Michael Scherneck, president and CEO of the Southeast Georgia Health System.

The health system began the $140 million renovation and expansion in 2018. The project aims to ensure the Brunswick hospital can continue to meet health care needs as the communities it serves grow. The finished work will include 70,000 square feet of new construction and 100,000 square feet of renovations.

The Emergency Care Center will be expanded to add 15 exam and treatments rooms, creating a total of 50, including two trauma rooms.

An expansion of the second floor will accommodate 16 new operating rooms, endoscopy suites, a post-anesthesia care unit and pre- and post-recovery bays.

A new inpatient floor will include 32 private patient rooms, each of which will have a window.

The Southeast Georgia Health System has transformed in the last 25 years into one of the best in the state, said Valerie Hepburn, chair of the Glynn-Brunswick Memorial Hospital Authority.

“This project is the next step in that evolution, really a revolution, of building one of the finest health care systems in Georgia,” Hepburn said.

A health care system, she said, is the center of economic development and prosperity in a community.

“You don’t attract businesses, you don’t attract retirees, you don’t retain and grow organizations without a great health care system,” Hepburn said. “People just won’t live there. So we’re central to what makes Glynn County and Brunswick, and also our neighbors in Camden, McIntosh, Wayne, Brantley, really thrive. And this work is extremely important.”

The project is being paid for by tax-exempt revenue bonds and donations, including a $4.7 million donation from the Thomas & Mildred Beach Trust.

The Southeast Georgia Health System Foundation committed $4 million to the project and is conducting a 20-20 Vision Campaign with the goal of raising an additional $4 million.

“We’re really excited about the future of our health system,” Scherneck said. “Clearly, state-of-the-art facilities like this are really what’s needed to take care of our families, our friends, our neighbors. As some of you know, some of our facilities date back to the 1960s. This project, I think, is an example of our commitment to meeting the future needs of our community.”

More from this section

Garry Young was among the small business owners directly impacted by shelter in place and social distancing guidelines enacted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

With most events canceled because of the coronavirus, a St. Simons veterans organization still carried out a Memorial Day tradition in placing a wreath at the Christ Church grave of an early commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.