As the leaders of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta looked at its future and the expected growth in metro Atlanta’s population, it was no surprise the pediatric hospital system decided to expand in a major way.

So in 2017 Children’s announced a plan to move its Egleston campus, located near Emory University in DeKalb County, to a 70-acre site on North Druid Hills Road next to Interstate 85 in Brookhaven.

“Egleston is on seven acres. It’s on a postage stamp,” said Dr. Patrick Frias, chief operating officer of Children’s. “We had to look back and say, ‘Where are we going to be in the next five to 10 years? What’s the pediatric population growth? What’s the demand?’ We’re going to need 750 beds across our system. That’s 112 more beds than we currently have.

“We had multiple scenarios on what we could do at all there hospitals, and we felt there was no way we could add that many beds, so we made the decision to build a replacement hospital for Egleston.”

Frias spoke on that topic and more May 31 at the Buckhead Business Association’s signature luncheon at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Buckhead.

Children’s is investing between $1 billion and $1.3 billion in the new 70-acre Egleston site, which will include the Center for Advanced Pediatrics, a 260,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility housing complex care specialists under one roof. The center, which broke ground in January 2017, is expected to open in July.

But the new Egleston hospital, which will have 446 beds in two patient towers, is not supposed to open until 2026. At that point, the Children’s will no longer operate an inpatient facility at the old Egleston campus, and that campus’ purpose will be determined during the hospital system’s planning process over the next several years.

Much of the property was acquired in 1998 after the Egleston Children's Health Care System and Scottish Rite Children's Medical Center merged to become Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, according to Children’s spokeswoman Annalise Coronel.

The new campus will have 20 acres of greenspace and is expected to include a walking/bicycling trail connecting to the BeltLine. But the Children’s expansion is not limited to that campus.

These plans include construction of an outpatient facility at Town Center and construction of a new urgent care center in the Chamblee/Brookhaven area, plus other details Frias mentioned. 

“We’re still going to invest in all our campuses,” he said. “Scottish Rite (in Sandy Springs) is a critical piece of Children’s Healthcare. We added 46 licensed beds and 14 observation beds last year in order to meet the demands of the community. We’re actually adding 30 beds at Egleston this coming year because we have to get ourselves (ready for) 2026. … And at Hughes Spalding (in downtown Atlanta), one investment this year there is we’re expanding the emergency department.”

Overall, Children’s saw about 400,000 patients throughout its system last year, including at least one from all 159 counties in Georgia, Frias said.

“Keeping all three hospitals open costs $1 million a day,” he said, adding 60 percent of the patients served are on Medicaid.

During a Q&A session following Frias’ speech, association member Rick Hamilton asked, “The state was going to put in some underpasses on North Druid Hills (Road) and Briarcliff (Road at I-85) but decided not to. What happened?”

“We are in the midst right now of the DRI (development of regional impact) submitted to the Atlanta Regional Commission.,” Frias said. “We are in discussions with GRTA (Georgia Regional Transportation Authority) and GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation). We anticipate some changes to the intersection necessitated by this.”

Also at the luncheon, the association handed out its annual Public Safety Awards, which go to local first responders, and its Karl A. Bevins Service Award, which is given to an association member who gives back to the organization.

The Bevins honor went to Hamilton, a longtime member who also serves on the association’s board of directors.

“He was chosen because of his dedication shown at all of our events and his active participation on the board,” Catherine Cattles, an association member and past president, said in announcing the award recipient. “He is our go-to person for (video) and audio. He sets up our morning breakfast (meetings) and quite often is the last person to close down the breakfasts. He’s also served on numerous other (organizations’) boards.”

The first Public Safety Award went to Fulton County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Faith Hampton, who was honored for her heroic efforts when she and her supervisor, Sgt. Hudson, were called to serve a temporary protection order at a home in Buckhead, where they found a male and female suspect in possession of drugs and resisting arrest. Hampton arrested the female suspect and then subdued and arrested the male suspect, who seriously injured Hudson when he tried to arrest him.

Officer Dominic DiGiovanna with the Atlanta Police Department’s Zone 2 substation in Buckhead was honored for several heroic acts. They included arresting a suspect who had stolen a knife from a resident’s car in Buckhead and returning the knife to its owner, and climbing a ladder to get to a person who threatened to kill himself or herself by jumping off the Howell Mill Road bridge over Interstate 75 to keep the person from doing so.

Atlanta Fire Rescue Department Firefighter Cornelius Griffin was honored for placing fourth out of 150 candidates in the first sergeant process test, for remaining calm in all situations and for giving back to the department countless times.

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