BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Roper Hospital officials said plans for a new Berkeley County location are on schedule for an early 2019 opening.
J.R. Van Vechten helped coordinate Monday's town hall at the Del Webb community, where hospital leaders updated locals on the hospital's timeline. He said he knows from personal experience how timely care can be critical in a healthcare emergency.
"Just after the 17th of this month, my wife didn't even have chest pains, and she felt terrible after our dance class," Van Vechten
said. "She called 911 and went to the hospital."
Van Vechten's wife is now recovering from emergency open heart surgery.
"It takes so long to get to a hospital. it takes more than 20 minutes," Van Vechten said. "You may not make it. So it's very important for healthcare here and very important in my case she survived."
Van Vechten said he's excited to see the hospital finally coming to fruition.
Plans for the Roper St. Francis Berkeley hospital have been in the works for more than seven years, but were delayed due to a lawsuit for a competing project with Trident Hospital. Roper leaders said Monday that the design phase is moving forward. They expect architects to start shortly; design is expected to take a year and construction, two years.
Scott Broome, who has been tapped to be the new CEO of Roper St. Francis Berkeley Hospital, said there's a great need for hospital services in the area.
"There are two hospitals in the Mount. Pleasant market with about 90,000 people," Broome said. "In Berkeley county, the population is already larger, there's significant growth projected and no hospital."
Berkeley County has approximately 198,000 people, according to 2014 census data. It's also the fastest growing county in S.C.
Broome said the design will also keep in mind flexibility to expand with Berkeley County's growing population.
Once complete, the 140,000-square-foot hospital will feature 50 beds and offer obstetrics, physical therapy, infusion therapy, radiology and imaging services, as well as an emergency department and pharmacy. A medical office building will be built next door on the 90-acre campus. The hospital site is at the intersections of U.S. highways 176 and 17A, near the Carnes Crossroads community of Goose Creek.
Officials say the hospital is expected to create 285 jobs and cost $113 million. Broome confirmed funding is already in place for the project.
"We recognize that our services at Roper St. Francis aren't particularly close to this community," Broome said, "so we share this excitement in bringing a facility into this community that's close to them. Providing access is key and it's acutely needed at this time."
The Roper St. Francis healthcare system has three hospitals located across the region: Roper Hospital on the Charleston peninsula, Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital in West Ashley and Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital in Mount Pleasant.