The first five weeks on the project were spent concentrated on clearing and grubbing, grading the site and putting in retaining walls.
Construction crews north of Atlanta are finishing up a 46,610 sq. ft. (4,330.2 sq m) upscale transitional care medical facility designed to care for patients who have been discharged from the hospital but still in need of daily rehabilitation.
Texas-based Golden Living — the second largest skilled nursing provider in the United States, will manage the 64-bed Salude transitional care center. The company has been developing the new Georgia facility for the last year in Suwanee.
Located just off Interstate 85 on Atlanta’s suburban north side, Salude is just the second development in a new mixed-use commercial enclave called Suwanee Gateway. Encompassing almost 14 million sq. ft. of industrial, office, retail and hotel space, the development is being counted on to help revitalize the area between the interstate and downtown Suwanee.
The medical facility plans to have its grand opening July 8, according to Kelli Luneborg, public relations director of Golden Living.
She added that the number of employees at the center has yet to be finalized, but will employ nursing staff and clinical specialists, as well as hospitality-focused staff like a concierge.
Built for Short-Term Patients
Salude is being built to replace another Golden Living facility in nearby Lawrenceville that had to be closed due to roof damage.
The Suwanee rehab center is designed for patients who are recovering from a variety of post-acute and post-surgical conditions, including orthopedic, cardiac and other complex, short-term rehabilitation needs.
“We knew we wanted to rebuild so we decided to use the opportunity to offer the community a new model of health care — one that would cater to short-term rehabilitation patients,” Luneborg said.
“We worked closely with the state to make sure they supported our vision to offer a new transitional care model. There are very few transitional care facilities, if any at all, that are equally focused on clinical experience and delivering a hospitality-oriented customer-service experience.”
Luneborg added that Salude will be geared to patients in need of physical therapy, like those recovering from knee and hip replacements.
“Salude is for people who are well enough to leave the hospital but are not quite ready to go home where they may have stairs or other things in their day to day living that may preclude them from easily getting back on their feet,” Luneborg said.
Traditionally speaking, Luneborg said that there has not been a good healthcare environment to accept these people and fully expedite the healing process between the hospital and home. She explained that hotels are often built adjacent to hospitals because patients from out of town need a good place to stay while still being close to their doctor or physical therapist.
Construction Almost Complete
Now, after more than a year of construction, Salude is almost ready to fill that critical need.
Most of the building will be done by the end of May, according to Jason Nail, the director of construction management of Golden Living and the project manager for Salude. Between that time and the grand opening, almost all of the work will be in readying the interior for patients.
Like every other building project in the Southeast over the past year or so, weather has played havoc with the pace of the work, according to Nail.
“We’ve had record rainfall and then you add the snow days in there; those two elements combined really gave us some trouble,” Nail said. “But, I’ll tell you what, we are working with a pretty reputable general contractor in Integra Construction in Atlanta and they have managed to keep us on track.”
Any time that the bad weather threatened to put the project behind schedule, Nail said, “these guys just managed to man up and work overtime” to keep the job moving forward.
He added that the first five weeks on the project last year were spent concentrated on clearing and grubbing, grading the site and putting in retaining walls.
“We actually had to monitor the backfill for 30 days to ensure that we had the proper compaction and that settlement had stopped,” Nail said. “That’s one reason that we are at 12 months right now.”
The lay of the land itself also proved challenging to Nail and the work crew due to the fact that the site was located in a relatively deep and narrow valley.
Crews had to construct a building pad to level the slopes of the site, as well as build retaining walls that vary in height from 28 to 47 ft. (8.5 to 14.3 m), with another 7 or 8 ft. to the building pad, Nail said.
He added that Golden Living owns about 14.5 acres at the site, but only 4.92 acres was developed.
“That’s a pretty big undertaking for that small of acreage relative to the site,” Nail said.