University Hospital and Atlanta-based Alliance Surgery officials opened an Evans surgery center to the public Thursday.
The Surgery Center of Columbia County, a nearly 21,000-square-foot outpatient day surgery facility, shares the building with University's sleep center at the hospital's campus on North Belair Road at Town Center Drive.
More than a dozen physicians have teamed with University and Alliance to provide colorectal, hernia repair, neurosurgical, podiatry and ear, nose and throat procedures at the surgery center.
It is equipped with four surgical suites, two procedure rooms and also has seven regular recovery beds and an extended recovery area, said Ann Turner, the center's administrator.
The opening of the center represents an "exciting new chapter in the evolution of the Evans Campus," said Dr. Andy Lasser, the executive vice president for business development for University Health Care System.
The surgery center has been open about three months, Turner said, adding that the center is expected to have an increase in its current 100 cases per month to more than 500 in the near future.
In November, University broke ground nearby on a new 60,000-square-foot medical office building that will include a diagnostic imaging center and space for more than 30 physicians.
Charlie Neal, the CEO of Alliance, which will manage and operate the center, said 70 percent of all surgical procedures can be performed in outpatient facilities.
"This is a great example of health care being brought into the community," he said.
Columbia County Commis-sion Chairman Ron Cross praised the groups for bringing more health care services to the area.
"We all would like to see a full-fledged hospital in Columbia County, but that is not an easy task," he said. The surgery center provides many of the services a hospital would deliver, he said.
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