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Work Begins on $263M Tower at Marietta Ga.'s Wellstar Kennestone Hospital

Wed November 17, 2021 - Southeast Edition
Wellstar Kennestone Hospital

WellStar Health System plans a new seven-story clinical and bed tower on its Marietta campus.
WellStar Health System plans a new seven-story clinical and bed tower on its Marietta campus.
WellStar Health System plans a new seven-story clinical and bed tower on its Marietta campus.

Construction began Nov. 15 on a new seven-story, $263 million tower at Marietta, Ga.'s Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, the medical facility announced in a news statement.

The hospital serves most of northern and central Cobb County north of Atlanta.

Wellstar filed an application for the project with the Georgia Department of Community Health in early August. State approval was required, a process that took the three months leading to the project's start in mid-November.

The new building is expected to be completed in 2025 and will add 61 acute-care beds to the hospital, which currently has 633 beds, plus another 67 beds relocated from elsewhere within the medical center.

Wellstar plans to demolish the current Baird Building, a two-story structure built in 1964, that is "outdated and beyond its useful life," the hospital said in the release. The old building sits between the hospital's existing purple and blue towers, but the new structure is designed to connect to both towers for enhanced convenience and accessibility.

Specialized Care Units to Be Included

In its August application to state health officials, the hospital proposed that:

  • One floor of the tower would have a 32-room critical care unit.
  • Another would house an expanded neonatal intermediate and intensive care unit (NCIU). Wellstar Kennestone's current NICU is "highly utilized and [has] been operating above capacity for several years," the application read.
  • The top three floors would have 32 private rooms each serving medical, neurological, surgical and cardiac acute inpatients.

In its submission, Wellstar noted the growing popularity of private rooms, citing more privacy, less stress on patients, lower infection rates and fewer medical errors. COVID-19 has increased the desire of patients to have private rooms, it said.

By increasing the size of the hospital, the company expects to be able to accommodate the continued growth of Kennestone's service area.

Wellstar's primary service area of Cobb, Cherokee and Paulding counties is expected to expand by more than 5 percent over the next half-decade. And in the six counties making up Kennestone's primary and secondary service areas, the 65-years-and-older population is expected to grow by more than 25 percent in the next five years.

"The new tower will provide necessary space for additional patient beds and services, including neonatal care for our youngest patients and medical care for adult patients and families," Mary Chatman, president of Kennestone and Wellstar's Windy Hill Hospital, noted in tan August press release.

"In addition, we will expand the number of private rooms in response to the voice of our community and people we provide care for."

The medical center tower will not result in any new clinical health services but will expand space for existing services. Once the building is finished, fewer new personnel will be required to operate it, the hospital reported.

In addition, several hospital amenities would be relocated to the tower, including the cafeteria, kitchen, chapel, gift shop and registration/admissions.

Wellstar plans to fund the project with $63 million in cash and $200 million in debt financing.

Patients Need to Be Aware of Construction

With the kickoff of the hospital's new construction came some important updates for patients:

  • The Church Street entrance to the hospital will be closed to the public during construction, the provider announced in a recent news release. Additionally, the covered walkway between the hospital and the blue parking deck will be inaccessible.
  • Both the facility's main lobby entrance and Kennestone Hospital Boulevard will remain open. Signs will be posted to direct patients and visitors around the disruptions.
  • The labor and delivery drop-off location has been moved to inside the blue parking deck at the entrance of the existing Kennestone outpatient building. To access that entrance, visitors will need to use Kennestone Hospital Boulevard, off Tower Road, then follow the signs into the covered Blue Parking Deck.

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