Micro-hospital, helipad and traffic light could be coming to Buckwalter in Bluffton

Witmer, Jones, Keefer LTD., Andrews Engineering and Surveying and Ewing Cole

A plan for a micro-hospital along Bluffton’s Buckwalter Parkway is one step closer to reality with new details emerging at Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting.

Bluffton Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the initial plan for the small hospital, referred to as South of the Broad Healthcare. The project is a joint venture between Beaufort Memorial Hospital and the Medical University of South Carolina, and the first of its kind in the state.

The facility would be a 65,000 square-foot and sit on approximately 12.5 acres near the intersection of Bluffton Parkway, Innovation Drive and Buckwalter Parkway, according to the plan submitted to the town’s department of growth management.

“I think it’s a game-changer for that whole hub of healthcare,” Mayor Lisa Sulka said during Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting.

The developer, Witmer, Jones, Keefer LTD., started the process to apply to build on the site in May and the plan was brought before council Tuesday for initial approval.

The facility is expected to bring about 125 jobs to the area and include orthopedic and cardiology care, along with labs, imaging and general surgery on its list of treatments, the Island Packet previously reported.

The healthcare facility’s plan includes a 15-bed emergency room and 20 beds for acute care, ambulatory care, outpatient surgery and other ancillary visits to the hospital.

The master plan includes 231 parking spaces, a 4,000 square-foot pocket park adjacent to wetlands next to the property and a pond, pedestrian pathways that will be connected to the property and a helipad on the building for intensive care patients to be taken to other facilities.

A new traffic light at Bluffton Parkway and Innovation Drive must also be installed prior to the hospital opening.

During Tuesday’s council meeting, definite construction and opening dates were not given.

Micro hospitals are designed with a smaller number of beds and are less expensive to run than larger hospitals. The facilities offer similar services to regular-sized hospitals, barring extreme circumstances.