A 24-hour, freestanding emergency department serving Bamberg and Barnwell counties could be open and operational before the end of the year.
“The process is going quite well,” Regional Medical Center President and Chief Executive Officer Charles E. Williams said Monday.
Once it’s complete “We will have 24-7 physician coverage,” he said.
Williams discussed the $8.6 million project during the Bamberg County Council meeting.
RMC is developing in the center in the wake of hospital closures in Bamberg and Barnwell counties. The new center will be located on 10 acres of land adjacent to Highway 70 between the cities of Denmark and Barnwell.
“If you drive out there, you'll notice that the parking is about done and we're actually coming out of the ground now. … It is our plan to have the facility open and operating before the end of the year in November, no later than December,” Williams said.
“We are very proud of the facility. We've already started working with our ED physicians to start talking about recruiting and staffing. … We have proactively planned a helipad there. … So we wanted people to know that if you come there and it's a major emergency, you can be flown to our main hospital,” he said.
Bamberg County Councilman Evert Comer Jr. said, "We're happy to have you in this region and we look forward to partnering with you whenever that comes into play."
Williams noted that state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, and state Rep. Lonnie Hosey, D-Barnwell, have been working with the hospital to get the project open and operational.
Also during the meeting:
• Council approved the appointment of council members Sharon Hammond and Clint Carter and County Chamber President Jerry Bell to serve on a Capital Projects Sales Tax Commission as county representatives. Two other commission members will be selected by the cities of Bamberg and Denmark, with the commission as a whole to decide on the final sixth member.
County voters approved an additional 1 percent sales tax in November 2012 to fund $4.4 million in construction projects. They will be asked to vote on another round of projects on Nov. 6.
• County Treasurer Alice Johnson reported the county's total income for January was $2.3 million. Expenses came in at $866,495, leaving a positive balance of about $1.4 million.
• Finance Director T.M. Thomas reported the general fund generated $4.5 million in year-to-date revenue as of the end of January. Expenditures stood at almost $4 million, leaving a positive balance of $509,846.
• County Administrator Joey Preston noted that the county received an approximately $150,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to reseal and resurface its airport runway. He said the county is also poised to complete long-awaited work on Dally Road in Denmark and Crouch Circle and Panther roads in Bamberg this year.
The administrator said the county is procuring two new fire trucks through a federal grant/loan package from the USDA, with a third one to be procured within the next three to four months.
• Keep South Carolina Beautiful Director Mallory Biering presented County Litter Enforcement Officer Farrell Pulaski with the Lower Region Individual Leadership Award on behalf of the state Litter Control Association.
“He’s worked 35 cases in the short time that he’s been here. He’s issued 30 tickets, all totaling close to $12,000 in fines. Those tickets have resulted in more than 20 tons of litter being removed from the roadway in public property in Bamberg County. And he has personally assisted with removing three tons of litter,” Biering said.
She also presented County Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Bell and its affiliate board members with an Outstanding Performance Award on behalf of Keep South Carolina Beautiful for the chamber’s implementation of Edisto River canoe/kayak paddle trips every fourth Saturday.
Biering said the award is given to a program that creates, protects and promotes a cleaner community and enhances the beauty of a neighborhood or public space.
• Denmark resident Barbara P. Beard, a representative of the Rosenwald Restoration Foundation, spoke of the nonprofit group’s efforts to secure a restoration grant for the preservation of the Denmark Rosenwald School. Built in 1931, the Denmark site is the only surviving Rosenwald School out of three built in Bamberg County.
“We want to keep on going for (the late County Councilwoman) Ms. Alzena Robinson. She really did work very hard in trying to keep this going,” Beard said.
Councilman Joe Guess Jr. said, “I’m glad you’re doing what you’re doing.”
• Hampton couple Thomas and Megan Barlet spoke of their plans to create an educational equine farm and ranch in Ehrhardt. Megan Barlet said a campground and petting zoo are among the amenities they’re exploring for the facility.
• Received as information the following council member standing committee appointments for 2018: Administrative/Finance — Chairman Clint Carter, Trent Kinard and Comer; Personnel/Education, Recreation, Health and Welfare/ Intergovernmental Relations — Chairman Kinard, Joe Guess Jr. and Sharon Hammond; Public Service/County Planning — Chairman Larry Haynes, Guess and the Rev. Isaiah Odom; Justice and Public Safety — Chairman Hammond, Comer and Kinard; Solid Waste/Recycling — Chairman Comer, Haynes and Odom.
• Gave second reading approval to an ordinance authorizing a fee-in-lieu agreement between the county and a solar panel project with the code name "Project Mary Guess," along with special source revenue credits. The 55-megawatt solar farm is expected to create approximately $63 million in capital investment.