Health care offerings continue to improve in Dawson County with the opening of Northeast Georgia Health System's Medical Plaza 400.
"We are thrilled to be extending our services in this market and excited about the opening of our new Medical Plaza 400 and all of the services," said Carol Burrell, president and CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System.
The hospital system bought the property at 108 Prominence Drive last summer with plans to expand and renovate the former Moto400 building into a multipurpose facility.
"I can't believe the transformation of this building from a few months ago. To think there were just a few motorcycles in here a few months ago, and now we have the state-of-the-art medical complex," Burrell said.
Tuesday's official opening was a smooth transition, according to Administrative Director Jo Brewer.
"Our first day is going great. We've had a lot of traffic in and out of the building and the parking lot has been full, so people have found us easily," she said. "Our focus right now is on offering a great patient experience. All of our departments are working in concert to deliver a unique patient experience.
"We really want people to feel at home and confident in the care that we are giving them."
The plaza was unveiled Thursday night to an invitation-only crowd of several hundred supporters, staff and community members.
"I want to thank the Dawsonville community for supporting us for so many years, and especially those of you coming out tonight to help us initiate and open this facility here," Burrell said.
"We've been serving this area for decades and are looking forward to continuing that for the decades and generations of your families to come."
With more than 25,000 square feet, services at Medical Plaza 400 include urgent care, imaging, outpatient labs, sports medicine and numerous specialty physicians.
Debbie Duke, director of imaging services, said the center began seeing patients early Tuesday morning.
"The patients have been coming and going all day. We've already had several people come in for imaging services and we've got plenty more scheduled throughout the day," she said. "Overall it's a busy first day."
Northeast Georgia Physicians Group, which has had a local presence for many years, is also relocating from its Hwy. 53 location to the new two-story medical campus.
Paul Behrmann, a physician who has been practicing family medicine in Dawson County since 1978, said he sees moving to the new facility as "a milestone for our practice, a benefit to our patients and, really, quite a big step for this community."
"In this single building, our patients will have access to imaging services that are state-of-the-art, with the ability to make same-day appointments, as well as a wide range of physician specialists for easy referrals," he said. "When our office is closed, and an injury or illness can't wait, my patients will have access to urgent care services closer to home.
"Today marks a dream that has been realized, and I'm thrilled to be here."
The Development Authority of Dawson County began working on an initiative several years ago to attract new medical services to the community.
"This is a clear example that Dawson County and in particular the Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53 intersection is becoming a medical destination," said Charlie Auvermann, the authority's executive director.
Northeast Georgia Health System is the third major medical group to open facilities in Dawson County in recent months. Both Northside and Piedmont hospitals have local annexes that offer a variety of medical services.
"Physician groups and medical companies are looking at Dawson County as a potential location for their practices and businesses," Auvermann said.
He went on to note that the expansion of medical offerings is a plus for "everyone involved."
"Not only is it the convenience for our citizens, but it's also bringing more higher jobs into the county, which will in turn give our young people, especially those that are going to Lanier Tech, more opportunities to take jobs without having to go out of the county to find work," he said.
Christie Haynes, president of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, said she is encouraged by the economic development potential health care facilities such as Medical Plaza 400 carry.
"For them to take an existing vacant building right along Ga. 400 and renovate it into a world-class medical facility ... anyone who toured the new facility can see Northeast Georgia Health System's commitment to our community," she said.
Brewer said Northeast Georgia Health System is vested in Dawson and will grow with the community.
"To the people of this warm and welcoming community, I applaud you and your vibrant community," she said. "Northeast Georgia Health Systems stands ready to grow with you, to provide you with exceptional care, award winning health care to you and to your loved ones and our many visitors and guests."