New hospital planned to serve suburban communities - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

New hospital planned to serve suburban communities

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IRMO, SC (WIS) -

Arcing across a 75-acre campus near Interstate 26 and Lake Murray Boulevard is the newest addition to the Palmetto Health hospital system.

Opening this month, Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge offers 24-7 emergency care, an ICU, a labor and delivery unit and a range of inpatient services. It took years to get to this point, including $125 million dollars in spending and a legal battle that at times pitted Palmetto Health against two other area hospitals.

Palmetto Health prevailed with a campaign designed to tap into an affluent customer base in surrounding communities.

"They are looking for a flow of well-insured, suburban families," said Midlands healthcare economist Lynn Bailey. "What they're looking to keep track of and a hold of is their patients who don't want to come downtown anymore for fairly routine healthcare."

The Parkridge expansion moves Palmetto Health into territory dominated by Lexington Medical Center for nearly three decades. In anticipation of the Parkridge opening, Lexington Medical has been reminding patients of services long available in the Irmo area.

But Bailey said adding new competition to the healthcare landscape northwest of Columbia does not necessarily drive down costs or lead to higher quality care.

"What the market looks like in healthcare is who is your family physician, who controls their referrals and that you go where your primary care provider or the specialist who is admitting you to the hospital says you need to go," said Bailey.

In other words, where you get your medical care is often not much of a choice.  Bailey said it's not like choosing where to buy groceries or a car.

That hasn't stopped palmetto health from a full blown marketing push. In an aerial photo snapped a few days ago during an open house for the new hospital,  hundreds of visitors formed what Palmetto Health called a "circle of health" around the new building.

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