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Hospital opens state of the art imaging center
08.12 imaging center 1
Jamie Mercer discusses the bone density exam area. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

Physical work on the Effingham Hospital’s imaging center started about a year ago. But the opening of the facility’s doors was actually about 15 years in the making.

The first patient was scheduled to walk in about 1:30 Monday afternoon, just a few hours after hospital officials and other dignitaries cut the ribbon on the front door.

“This is a dream come true,” said Effingham Hospital CEO Norma Jean Morgan.

The imaging center, next to the hospital’s existing primary care center at Highway 21 and Goshen Road, is bringing 21st century medicine closer to the people who need it, hospital officials said. Images from the center’s machines can be read digitally on-site and transmitted to Effingham Hospital.

“It is staffed with top-notch people and has first-rate equipment,” said Dr. Bob Long of Radiology Associates of Savannah.

Said hospital chief of radiology Ken Wimmer: “We are probably one of the most state of the art facilities in the area, if not one of the most state of the art facilities in the state.”

The 8,704 square foot building has X-ray, CT scans, bone density testing, mammography and ultrasound. It also includes a women’s center, with a separate entrance and a private dressing room for women who are there to have mammographies, ultrasounds or bone density tests.

“We have beautifully designed dressing rooms and the hallways are designed so that you never go back into a thoroughfare,” Morgan said. “It’s very private and very well thought through by the radiologists and the professional staff. It’s a beautiful facility.”

The center took about eight months to build at a cost of $4.3 million. Its location isn’t a matter of accident, either, as hospital authority members long ago noticed the traffic patterns.

Hospital authority members bought the land 15 years ago, not sure of what would go there but with the knowledge that something would, Long said.

“We did a survey of this area, what the needs were and what the traffic count was,” said Herschel Paulk, chairman of the hospital authority when the land for the imaging center was built. “I’m proud that this is happening in Effingham County and not further down the road.”

Morgan said Effingham’s legislative delegation — state Sen. Jack Hill and Reps. Jon Burns and Buddy Carter — played key roles in steering the hospital’s certificate of need through the bureaucratic channels.

“Our legislators were very successful in asking the right questions of the right people to get our CON,” she said.

The lawmakers, for their part, were glad to see the center open its doors.

“Bringing health care to this part of the county is very important,” Carter said. “This is a growing area. This is going to provide a great service.”

Having the imaging center at Goshen and 21 also means Effingham residents won’t have to travel out of the county for such tests.

“It shows our hospital authority is looking out for the community and wants to make sure the community is well served in all areas,” said hospital authority member Rick Rafter.

Wimmer was glad to have the imaging center open just a few months and only a couple of thousand yards away from the open MRI center.

“It’s like a father waiting in the delivery room and the doctor comes out and says, ‘Your quadruplets are here,’” he said. “It’s a lot of work behind the scenes. It’s very satisfying to finally open the front doors.”