KINGSTREE, S.C. (WCSC) - Medical professionals in Williamsburg County hope a new hospital will bring better healthcare to patients living in rural communities.
The Medical University of South Carolina is moving forward with plans to build a $50 million hospital that will serve patients in Kingstree and Lake City.
“A lot of Americans and a lot of South Carolinians live in rural areas and I think sometimes we underestimate that,” MUSC Health CEO Dr. Patrick Cawley said. “We’ve got to deliver healthcare and education in those communities.”
Once the new hospital is up and running, both Williamsburg Regional Hospital and Lake City Hospital will merge into the new facility.
Williamsburg Regional is currently the only hospital in the county and it’s been operating out of temporary modules for more than three years after the original building flooded in October 2015.
“Without this hospital here, everybody would have to travel 60 or more miles to get healthcare,” Williamsburg Regional Hospital CEO Sharon Poston said. “Distance for a patient who’s having a stroke or having a heart attack means life and death.”
Dr. Troy Gamble grew up in Williamsburg County and is now the chief medical officer at Williamsburg Regional. He said the state-of-the-art hospital will be a new hope for both patients and professionals in rural healthcare.
“I don’t have a lot of money, but I have a lot of sweat equity and there are about 200 good people who work here,” Gamble said. “When all you hear about is bad things, there are still very good people out there who have bent over backwards to help see that this place survived.”
MUSC officials said they are currently finalizing the application for a certificate of need to the Department of Health and Environmental Control to build the new 25-bed critical care facility on Highway 52. They hope to have the hospital up and running in two to three years.
“You’re basically taking three different groups. Imagine trying to get everybody aligned and going in the same direction,” Cawley said. “I think we’re past that. At this point, it’s just about let’s get that thing built.”