Plans to expand services for women at Coastal Carolina Hospital will mean newborns will be delivered at the facility for the first time in eight years.
The Hardeeville hospital plans to add a new women's unit by late spring. The 15,600-square-foot wing will have 16 beds and cost about $1.4 million, according to hospital spokeswoman Carolyn Grant. The hospital currently has 41 beds.
More important, the women's wing would bring delivery services closer to soon-to-be moms in Jasper County, she said.
"(Jasper County women) currently travel 30 to 45 minutes to other hospitals in our region to give birth," she said. "They will now have delivery services close to home."
Currently, only Hilton Head Hospital and Beaufort Memorial have such services in Beaufort and Jasper counties.
The new birthing center will allow for 1,000 babies a year to be delivered, according to the hospital's website.
Coastal Carolina stopped offering obstetrical care in late 2005, according to a news release at the time. The release did not explain why the hospital suspended care.
Grant said the care ended before the hospital's current owners, Tenet Healthcare, purchased the facility, and she "cannot speculate on why the administrators at that time ended the service."
In addition to the new center, six Beaufort- and Bluffton-based obstetricians and two midwives plan to join the medical staff this fall, Coastal Carolina's website said.
"This program will not only benefit mothers, but women who may be seeking specialized GYN care," hospital CEO Bradley Talbert said.
About 45 nursing jobs are expected to be created.
Follow reporter Dan Burley at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.