Is construction recession-proof?

Why Atlanta hospitals keep building despite financial woes

Mounting financial pressures have not deterred Atlanta-based hospitals from investing in new patient towers, renovation projects, and technology to meet the demands of their growing patient population, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Kevin Bloye of the Georgia Hospital Association said managing current financial strains while preparing for the future is the "biggest balancing act hospitals have," according to the Journal-Constitution. The Atlanta Regional Commission estimates that the metropolitan region will gain about three million new residents in upcoming decades, with the population reaching 8.3 million by 2040.

WellStar Health System plans to build a new $125 million hospital in Paulding County, while Gwinett Medical Center soon will open a new heart and vascular center. "More and more, your credibility in the market is correlated with patient satisfaction," said Chris Kane, WellStar's senior vice president of strategic business development. He added that community expectations for a health system do not change because the economy is unstable.

Health care providers also are making upgrades because large, aging hospitals can be costly to maintain, the Journal-Constitution reports. Meanwhile, facilities continue to invest in technology like electronic health records to boost efficiency, cut duplication, and prevent medication errors.

For example, Emory Healthcare has launched a new patient tower project as the first phase of a $1.5 billion expansion, which will include about 200 beds, a new ED, ORs, and intensive care beds. Ken Thorpe, a health care expert at Emory University, said that having modern facilities with up-to-date medical equipment is crucial for hospitals to stay competitive (Williams, Journal-Constitution, 9/18).

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