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Busy start for surgery center
Staff, patients pleased with Northside site
Center WB 1
Surgical technicians David Moore, left, and Lestephen Wiley organize and sanitize tools at the new Northside Hospital-Forsyth Outpatient Surgery Center. - photo by Autumn Vetter

More than 100 patients have used a new Northside Hospital-Forsyth facility in just a little more than a month.

The Northside-Forsyth Outpatient Surgery Center opened June 18 at 1055 Haw Creek Pkwy., near the main hospital campus.

Susan Spencer, manager of surgical services at the hospital, said the new facility, which is nearly 15,000 square feet, includes large pre-op and recovery areas, as well as four operating rooms.

“The operating rooms are almost 500 square feet each, which is big for operating rooms,” she said.

Spencer said facility can handle a number of outpatient procedures, ranging from general and plastic surgery to gastrointestinal, eye, and ear, nose and throat procedures.

“The most common [procedure] so far has been cataract surgery,” she said. “Then we also do a lot of GI procedures, those would be like colonoscopies. We also do some hand and foot surgeries and [ear, nose and throat], that’s mostly what we do.”

Eventually, Spencer said, the facility will open a small area where some patients could stay overnight.

“We haven’t opened that area yet,” she said. “But we hope to do a lot of plastic surgery here and those are the types of patients that typically need to stay overnight because they might have some pain or be nauseated. That doesn’t happen with cataract surgery or colonoscopies.”

Spencer said she’s been somewhat surprised that the center has seen more than 100 patients.

“Our volume has really grown just in the month we’ve been open,” she said. “We started off with just one operating room and, while we have four built out, we’re doing two and three rooms a day now.”

The center employs about 15 people, most of them nurses and surgical technicians.

Spencer said some of them came from other Northside Hospital locations.

“A lot of people that are nurses down in Atlanta tend to live in Cumming, so it works out really great for them to transfer up here and use those skills here,” Spencer said.

Jackie Kennedy, services coordinator for the center and a Forsyth County resident, transferred from Northside’s Sandy Springs location.

“It’s been really nice to work in [my] own community and be a part of that,” Kennedy said. “It’s been great being five, 10 minutes away from home.”

Kennedy said patients have seemed to enjoy the new center.

“We’ve had incredible responses back from patients,” she said. “They’re just loving it. They feel very welcome and very comfortable being here.”

Spencer agreed, saying the center is a benefit for both patients and the main hospital.

“The nice thing about this center is, instead of having to go to the main hospital, they can just pull up here and come a short walk from the parking lot … it’s so convenient for the patients not having to go to the main hospital and walk through those long corridors.

“It also benefits the hospital because if we can move the smaller cases to the [outpatient] surgery center, that gives us more time on our OR schedule [at the main campus] for bigger surgeries … those bigger cases need to be done at the hospital, so it just frees up more space and time for those.”

That also helps the hospital’s emergency department, she said, which often sees patients in need of immediate surgical care.

“With a busy ER, it’s nice to have an operating room available when you need it,” Spencer said.

The new outpatient center is available to all surgeons with privileges at Northside-Forsyth.

Spencer said so far it is operating on a daily schedule.

“We open at 6 in the morning and start our surgeries at 7 [a.m.],” she said. “We close at 5 [p.m.] and make sure everyone’s gone home by 6 p.m.”