Luminaries laud grand opening of new Central Harnett Hospital

Ceremony introduces new $56 million, 50-bed facility
Jan. 10, 2013 @ 05:30 PM

Citizens of central and western Harnett County have a brand new place to get primary and specialty medical care closer to home.

The Central Harnett Hospital opens the morning of Jan. 18 in Lillington. And with partnerships with the Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine, WakeMed and others, officials said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, the hospital will offer the best care possible.

The facility is the second branch of Harnett Health, which also operates Betsy Johnson Hospital in Dunn and several smaller practices and outpatient centers.

Ken Bryan, the president and CEO of Harnett Health, said Betsy Johnson is at capacity both in its emergency room and its private beds, so the new $56 million, 50-room hospital will serve the local population, as well as reduce some of the strain on staff at the Dunn hospital.

Citing a lack of physicians in Harnett County compared to other counties its size, plus suburban sprawl from Wake County in the north and military families moving up from Fort Bragg to the south, Bryan said Lillington is the perfect place for a new branch: "You know where it all comes together? Right here in Lillington."

The hospital is located at 215 Brightwater Drive, off of U.S. 401 North and directly across from the Harnett County Health Department.

Harnett Health System Manager William K. Atkinson II said the opening of the medical school at Campbell — which is the first new med school in the state in decades when it opens later this year — will be a boon for the hospital located just minutes away because of the ease of access to quality staff to serve the area.

"We are so pleased to have an opportunity, both here and at WakeMed, to work with Campbell," said Atkinson, who is also the president and CEO of WakeMed. "... The vast majority of services can and should be delivered at home."

Bill Pully, the event's keynote speaker and president of the N.C. Hospital Association, echoed those remarks and called the new Campbell medical school the most important development in North Carolina health care in the past 40 years because it will spur more hospitals like this one, serving populations in dire need of doctors and jobs.

"For every hospital job created in North Carolina, it in turn creates 2.2 (additional) jobs," he said.

Pully called the the hospital the best-looking one he's seen in the entire state. Currently two stories with 50 beds and chic design inside and out, Central Harnett Hospital has hired 100-plus employees to get started. But it could eventually boast a staff of about 500, since it has the capacity to expand to five stories and 150 beds. And officials said approximately 17,000 people applied for the open jobs — fierce competition that could lead to only the best candidates being hired at each position.

"Our mission is focused on providing a passionate staff, quality physicians and specialty care," Ron Maddox, chairman of the Harnett Health Board of Trustees, said, adding that the hospital will be seeking feedback on both the good and the bad once the facility opens to ensure patients are always getting the best treatment possible.

Bryan said the hospital takes that mission to heart simply because of the special place it has in the community.

"Each person who comes through our doors does something unique," he said. "They trust us with their lives."

Those who want to learn more about the new hospital can visit http://myharnetthealth.org, which also offers information on the 108 jobs that were available throughout the system as of Thursday, in fields ranging from security to nursing to management.