Hattiesburg Clinic expanding its reach with work on projects

By Haskel Burns, Associated Press | Posted - May 20, 2015 at 8:21 a.m.



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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Hattiesburg Clinic has one down and three to go when it comes to major projects in the Hub City.

Work on the four projects — Support Services, Bellevue Clinic, Children's Clinic and Pediatric Clinic — began early last year, when medical officials noticed the need to expand the clinic's footprint in Forrest and Lamar counties because of increased growth in Hattiesburg.

"Our plans for construction and expansion always begin with our patients in mind," said Tommy Thornton, Hattiesburg Clinic executive director. "We understand that the need for quality health care continues to grow in the Pine Belt, and we want to grow with it. Our primary goal is quality care and convenience to our patients, and we believe that this expansion will help us meet that goal."

The Support Services building, which was completed in July at 2902 Arlington Loop, houses 21 support departments for the clinic. The $8 million, 50,000-square-foot facility consolidates the clinic's administrative offices — which were previously spread out in the 28th Avenue area — into one building, while also serving as home for the clinic's record keeping.

"Consolidating these departments into one secure location is much more convenient," Thornton said. "Not only are they all in one location, but they are within walking distance of the main clinic."

The addition of the three-story Support Services building also opened up approximately 12,500 square feet of space on the second floor of the main clinic, allowing the clinic's eye physicians and neurosurgery to move to that floor. That, in turn, freed up the first floor for the first class of six physicians in the new family residency program, launched in June in conjunction with Forrest General Hospital and under the direction of Dr. Eric T. Hale.

"The Forrest General Family Medicine Residency program had a very successful first year, and has accepted six more residents for the 2015-2016 academic year," Hale said.

Of these 12 residents, nine are from Mississippi and the other three are from Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia.

"Once fully populated, we will have 18 residents training and providing in-patient and out-patient care for South Mississippi, with hopes that at least 70 percent of our graduates will choose to stay in South Mississippi to practice upon completion of the three-year residency."

Construction is well underway at the $10 million Hattiesburg Clinic-Bellevue facility at the southeast intersection of U.S. 98 and Mississippi 589, although the expected completion date has been pushed back a few months.

"While the original completion date for Hattiesburg Clinic-Bellevue was set for fall 2015, adverse weather conditions have caused us to move our estimated completion date to early 2016," said Greg Brou, director of the Hattiesburg Clinic Physical Plant.

When complete, the two-story, 40,000-square-foot facility will house relocated providers from Lake Serene Clinic, Eye Associates ophthalmology/optometry services and Lake Serene Physical Therapy. When Lake Serene Clinic moves into the Bellevue facility, plans will begin for the addition of Obstetrics & Gynecology services at the current Lake Serene Clinic location.

Thornton said the consolidation into the Bellevue Clinic is necessitated by the growth in residential housing in West Hattiesburg.

"This will allow us to offer patients more comprehensive services in one convenient location," he said. "Additionally, the new facility will provide room for those departments to add new providers in order to meet the needs of our patients.

"Offering OB-GYN services at the current Lake Serene location will allow our patients in West Hattiesburg more convenient access to this service as well."

Construction on the new Children's Clinic, located on Lincoln Road Extension just west of Venture Church's Lincoln Road campus, is expected to be completed in July.

The 18,000-square-foot facility will host nine pediatric providers from the current Children's Clinic on Medical Boulevard, with additional building room for expansion.

"(It's) nearing completion," Brou said. "We're currently preparing to pave the parking lot, and the interior painting is underway."

Officials have not released a cost for the facility.

Plans began more than a year ago for construction of a new 20,000-square-foot Pediatric Clinic located near the entrance to Tatum Park on Veterans Memorial Drive, but Thornton said bigger plans may be in store for that area.

"Opportunities are under consideration that would expand the new construction to include a medical campus," he said. "The new campus would consist of behavioral health services, orthopedic services and physical therapy services, in addition to the Pediatric Clinic."

The proposed facilities would total approximately 82,000 square feet.

"This project is still under evaluation," Thornton said.

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Information from: The Hattiesburg American, http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Haskel Burns

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