Smithfield Herald

Johnston Health begins construction on inpatient unit at Clayton hospital

Ralph Stewart, chairman of the Johnston Health Board of Commissioners, speaks at Wednesday’s groundbreaking.
Ralph Stewart, chairman of the Johnston Health Board of Commissioners, speaks at Wednesday’s groundbreaking.

Johnston Health has broken ground on an inpatient unit at its freestanding emergency department and outpatient center on N.C. 42 West in Clayton.

The three-story building, with 92,000 square feet, will house 50 inpatient beds, including a ground-floor women’s center with labor and delivery rooms, a nursery and a room for C-sections.

The $50 million project will make Johnston Medical Center in Clayton a full-service hospital.

“We will be able to deliver babies in Clayton, have more types of surgery and, more importantly, be able to take in patients who need to be treated overnight and keep them from driving to another county,” Chuck Elliott, Johnston Health’s chief executive, said at Wednesday’s groundbreaking.

Hospital board members, county commissioners and Clayton leaders joined Elliott at the ceremony.

“This makes the redneck in me want to say ‘Wahooooo,’” Clayton Mayor Jody McLeod said.

Jeff Carver, chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, said he’s excited for what the hospital project means for the county’s economy.

“You normally think of going to a hospital when you're sick, but hospitals also mean jobs,” Carver said.

Johnston Health says the Clayton expansion will create 100 jobs.

The hospital expects to complete the project in the first quarter of 2015 after 18 months of construction.

In addition to the inpatient wing, the hospital plans to renovate 5,000 square feet in the existing building. The project will add a cafeteria, a cardiology department, nine more exam rooms in the emergency department, space in radiology for nuclear medicine, a special-procedures room and a surgery suite.

Originally, the hospital planned an inpatient wing in Clayton with 27 beds.

“We realized that wasn’t enough,” Elliott said.

The hospital will take the 50 beds from its allotment at Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield.

The Clayton expansion continues a growth spurt in Johnston Health services. In May, Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield began operating a wound-care center and won accreditation for chest-pain treatment.

Johnston Health is in a better position financially than many hospitals because of its impending alliance with UNC.

Elliott has said the alliance with UNC will help Johnston Health survive the lower Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements that are part of the Affordable Care Act. He also expects UNC to bring specialized services to the county, such as pediatric cardiology, with UNC doctors coming to Johnston to provide care.

UNC will also invest capital dollars in Johnston Health facilities, though the sides are still negotiating the amount.