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Children's Healthcare makes plans
System to lease space; full hospital years away
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Forsyth County News
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is starting off small in its approach to Forsyth County.

It’s been about two years since the nonprofit pediatric health care system showed interest in the county by purchasing a 28-acre parcel of land near The Avenue Forsyth for $17.6 million.

While the property is slated to one day be used for a full-fledged children’s hospital, David Tatum, vice president and chief public policy officer, said the company is taking a gradual approach. The first step is leasing a building near its land parcel.

“Before we put any capital into the ground, we need to continue our evaluation of the need for services, plan what type of facility and how large it is,” Tatum said. “In order to have a presence in the community and start providing needed services, we elected to go with leasing this space in Phase 1.”

The hospital will apply for a certificate of need from the state in July to offer a small variety of clinic-style children’s health services. Those could include urgent care, orthopedics, gastrointestinal, sports medicine, rehabilitation and prosthetics.

The state of Georgia issues certificates of need to regulate health services, assuring they aren't duplicated.

If the certificate is approved, about 50 people will be brought on board as support services for the physicians, Tatum said.

Linda Cole, vice president of trauma and emergency services, said once the community becomes familiar with Children’s Healthcare, services will grow.

Phase 2 is expected to expand the same services into the hospital’s own building, Cole said.

The office Children’s Healthcare plans to lease is about 20,000 square feet. But construction of the Phase 2 building, which could start in the next couple of years, could be anywhere from 80,000 to 200,000 square feet, Cole said.

“That depends on how utilized is the [leased] facility,” she said. “But it is our intent to start the building of a true Children’s location, not a leased location, and we’d like to begin building within the first couple of years.”

Tatum said the initial lease will bring along about a $6.1 million investment, noting the project is “something physicians in [Forsyth] county asked for."

Because of its central location, access to Ga. 400 and the population growth, Forsyth was chosen to serve five surrounding counties.

“We have a large number of families that receive their services down in Scottish Rite that tell us they would prefer to receive outpatient services nearby because it’s very difficult ... to get down Ga. 400,” he said. “The need is there.”

Cole said eventually the third phase will bring beds and a full service hospital, but timing and exact services will be dictated by how the first two phases are utilized.

But for now, Cole said the company is committed to bringing the first phase to Forsyth.

“We’re hoping, if the certificate of need process goes smoothly, we should be somewhere in the neighborhood of May 2011," she said. “Then, we would like to start looking at Phase 2 almost immediately or at least evaluating it.

“We are so excited about working with Forsyth County.”