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Piedmont Athens is ‘Building for the Future’ with New Patient Tower

Athens, Ga. (Aug. 21, 2020)Earlier this year, Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center celebrated the groundbreaking of the final phase of its $171 million expansion and renovation project. Hundreds of community supporters and hospital staff gathered on the front lawn of the hospital, standing where a new, seven-story patient tower would soon be built.

The groundbreaking ceremony, which took place in January, served as the first of many milestones for the hospital’s tower. Those who attended not only welcomed the new tower to come, but also said goodbye to a 100-year-old tower that was once part of the hospital’s original development and housed some of the oldest patient rooms in Georgia.

With the new tower, however, comes new technology, new patient rooms and new opportunities for growth. Projected to be completed in 2022, the seven-story tower will stand six floors high, with one basement level.

“Because we serve a 17-county service area, our hospital cares for the needs of patients in counties all over northeast Georgia, making it a vital part of our local communities. As the communities in these counties grow, our hospital needs to grow with them,” said Diane Todd, executive director of operations of Piedmont Athens Regional and lead of the hospital’s construction project. 

The new patient beds of the tower will be open to the public in 2022 and will feature patient rooms with state-of-the-art equipment and the newest technology.

Design plans for these new patient rooms and the new tower as a whole incorporate current thinking from very recent state-of-the-art hospital developments from within the larger Piedmont system, such as the Marcus Tower at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, as well as from other new hospital developments both in and out of the state.

“Overall, Piedmont Athens Regional has been very focused on developing a new tower that modernizes and improves the hospital’s campus, while also providing the best in patient care and experience,” said Todd.

Improvements include what will be the hospital’s new main entrance, featuring a larger and better-designed drive-through area accessible off of Talmadge Drive.

“Like our previous drive up entrance on Talmadge Drive, the new entrance will also include a covered drive up and drop off area for patients and visitors to utilize,” Todd said. “But it’s going to be bigger and easier to navigate, with plenty of space for multiple cars to pull in at one time as they wait for their loved one, which wasn’t assessible with our previous drive-through entrance.”

Once patients and visitors enter the new tower, they’ll be greeted with a beautiful atrium and lobby, with easy access to the rest of the hospital.

“Right now, our different patient towers currently on campus are very sectioned off,” Todd said. “We really wanted to fix the flow for those coming to our hospital to make for a better experience. Our new tower atrium connects to all of the towers located throughout the hospital, so navigation to different areas will be much simpler and seamless.”

The atrium or first floor of Piedmont Athens Regional’s new tower will also feature a retail pharmacy, gift shop and café, which will include a covered patio area. Aside from these features, the new tower also works in special environments for caregivers and visitors of patients, such as its resource room.

“The resource room will be a place where loved ones and caregivers accompanying or visiting patients can go for any and all questions,” said Steven Dasher, director of major gifts and planned giving for the Piedmont Athens Regional Foundation. “Members of our social work and patient experience teams will be available to connect on various matters such as living wills, advanced directives, and general questions relating to a patient’s journey at the hospital.”

The Piedmont Athens Regional Foundation has a $1 million goal to enhance public spaces of the hospital’s new tower. With the resource room, their efforts also include the renovation of a sacred or spiritual space for visitors and patients to utilize.

“We’re also working to develop a community room with the new tower, which will be a space for our community to utilize for neighborhood or public meetings and gatherings, among other things,” said Dasher, who leads fundraising efforts related to the tower for the hospital’s Foundation. “The new tower is intended to be an inclusive space that enhances the patient experience, expands hospital capacity and helps to consolidate some of our services to ensure the best access to care.” 

In addition to the Foundation’s efforts to develop a resource and community room, the hospital’s team is also working to enhance the green space located on the campus.

The belief that plants and nature are beneficial to people in a healthcare setting has existed for thousands of years, which is why photos of the beach and fish tanks are often found in doctors’ offices. The addition of green space can promote well-being, help to reduce stress, improve recovery rates and lead to higher patient satisfaction. 

“The green spaces of the existing hospital campus serve as physical and healing connection to the surrounding Athens community,” said Todd. “The design of the new tower looks to grow and extend that connection by utilizing the natural expressions of garden featured inside and outside of the new tower.”

Various greenery displays will be visible including graphics and colors throughout the tower. Additionally, there will be an outdoor courtyard connected to it.

“Everything featured in our new tower is meant to bring a sense of healing and connection to the Piedmont Athens Regional campus,” Todd said. “As the Athens-area communities grow, we’re adapting to continue providing the best care and experience to our patients. At Piedmont Athens Regional, we embrace the future and continually seek better ways to strengthen patient care and services. This project will allow us to live those values, while building for the future.”

For more information about Piedmont Athens Regional’s expansion and renovation project, including its new tower, or for more information on how to become involved, visit piedmontathensgive.org.

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