Growth & Development

New Parkridge Hospital Brings Change to Irmo

Competition, Economic Development and a Healing Water Spa

By Al Dozier
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
parkridge hospital
Community members and Palmetto Health staff formed a “Circle of Health” around new the Parkridge Hospital in Irmo at an open house March 1. The facility opens later this month. Courtesy photo.

It’s more than just a hospital.

That’s what Palmetto Health officials say about the new 76-bed Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge Hospital located off Lake Murray Boulevard in the Irmo area. 

“You’ll feel the difference,” the hospital brags in a handout passed out to hundreds of visitors who attended an open house at the hospital this past weekend. The event began with attendants holding hands and surrounding the entire hospital in “a circle of health.”

In opening remarks to visitors gathered outside the new facility early Saturday morning, Palmetto Health CEO Chuck Beaman said the new hospital will “transform the health care experience.”

The facility will offer medical and surgical inpatient units, an intensive care unit, a labor-and-delivery unit complete with newborn nursery, four operating rooms and outpatient care and 24-hour emergency services.

It has more of a “homey” atmosphere than the typical hospital, officials say. There are front and back porches, living room-like furniture and various nature themes with exhibitions of rocks and natural colors on the walls.

The Arbor Dining Room will serve healthy food. There will not be fried food or fountain drinks. The vending machines offer healthy choices like baked chips.

The facility also has a chapel and a Healing Water Spa, which will be open to the community. Outdoor spaces will include a labyrinth walking trail and meditation garden.
The new Parkridge Hospital represents a compromise of sorts for Midlands hospitals.

For years, Lexington Medical Center fought a regulatory battle to begin offering cardiac surgical services to its patients. After some compromise with the two other local hospital systems, Providence Hospital and Palmetto Health, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control finally approved a certificate of need for the heart center.

As part of the compromise, Lexington Medical Center agreed to pay Providence $15 million over three years to de-license one of Providence’s heart surgery suites, and dropped its stance against Palmetto Health opening the new Parkridge Hospital.

Parkridge could be a fierce competitor for Lexington Medical Center, which has been serving the area for 28 years.

But Lexington Medical Center lately has been reminding the Irmo community on local billboards and signs that it is “keeping Irmo healthy.”

A Lexington Medical Center spokesperson says it’s too early to respond to the economic impact it may suffer competitively from the new hospital, but did offer some updates on how it is serving the Irmo area.

Lexington Medical Center’s complex of offices on St. Andrews Road has been undergoing significant renovations to modernize the exterior of the facility for patients. The renovations include new entrances and canopies for outpatient surgery, women’s imaging and diagnostic imaging centers, a new urgent care entrance and welcome desk, new signage around the campus to get patients and visitors to their destination faster, and a new roof.

Officials noted that Lexington Medical Center offers a nationally recognized outpatient care center that also includes a certified urgent care facility and physician practices.

Parkridge, meanwhile, is trying to distinguish itself through its approach to care, according to Palmetto Health CEO Beaman. He said one of the key components of the new hospital will be the individual treatment patients will receive.

“They won’t have to go to a check-in desk,” he said. “Every patient is escorted in by a care guide.”

A patient itinerary will also be in place so the patient and family members know what is scheduled for the patient that day, including treatments and times for physicians’ rounds.

Another key ingredient of the hospital is the technology incorporated into every aspect of patient services. Buttons and flags will allow patients to gain immediate access to whatever they need.

Beaman said the hospital will be virtually “paperless” with all of the high-tech programs set up throughout the facility.

Parkridge Hospital also means changes for the nearby Irmo community, according to Irmo Chamber of Commerce President Tiffany Boyce.

She says the new hospital has likely sparked the new businesses recently locating in the Irmo area, such as Smashburger, Zoes Kitchen and Marco’s Pizza on Lake Murray Boulevard.

And it will catch the eye of people traveling I-26 near the Irmo exit.

“It’s so beautiful,” Boyce says. “It’s so visible coming in and out of our area.”

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