A new hospital could be coming to Bluffton, bringing with it the potential for more than 100 new jobs.
Alabama-based inpatient physical rehabilitation provider HealthSouth is lobbying Bluffton town leaders for a zoning change that would allow the construction of a 46,000-square-foot, 38-bed facility on 6.8 acres of vacant land in the Seagrass Station neighborhood off S.C. 170.
“We are ready to begin construction of the structure as soon as possible,” HealthSouth chief real estate officer Art Wilson said earlier this week.
While Bluffton Town Council recently provided preliminary approval of a measure that would pave the way for construction, officials had concerns about the type of rehabilitation that could take place at the facility.
Mayor Lisa Sulka said that when people who live and work near the site hear the word “rehab,” their “immediate thoughts go to drug rehab.”
But that isn’t the type of service HealthSouth provides its patients, company officials say.
“Specifically, our company provides care for (people who have suffered a) brain injury, a cardiac event, a spinal cord injury, maybe some serious orthopedic surgery,” Wilson said. “... It’s purely physical rehabilitation, and sometimes things like speech therapy can go along with that.”
I think it fits with our economic development model.
Bluffton Town Councilman Dan Wood
Both town and company leaders agreed on the need for such a facility, particularly given its proximity to the Sun City Hilton Head retirement community.
Town officials — who have long expressed a desire to transform certain commercial areas into technology and healthcare industry hubs — also lauded the economic impact the facility could bring to Bluffton.
“I think it fits with our economic development model,” Councilman Dan Wood said.
The hospital is expected to create 106 new jobs over a period of three years, according to town documents.
With all of those new jobs — many of them relatively high-paying as compared to the service industry that dominates much of the town’s economy — the facility “brings a lot to the table for Bluffton,” Wood said.
There will be a public hearing on plans for the facility next month prior to a final council vote of the zoning and development plan change requests.