Groundbreaking Ceremony Highlights the Importance of Emergency Services Close to Home

October 28, 2021

“People get it,” North Augusta Mayor Briton S. Williams said at the groundbreaking ceremony for ER at Sweetwater, the first freestanding emergency department operated by Aiken Regional Medical Centers. “They get that this new standalone ER is going to be extremely beneficial for our citizens of today and citizens living here well into the future.”

ER at Sweetwater groundbreaking ceremony
Members of hospital administration along with several leaders of the community participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking as construction began on the new ER at Sweetwater.

The groundbreaking event, held October 22, drew a crowd of about 100 residents and featured speeches from community leaders as well as members of the hospital’s administration, including Jim O’Loughlin, Chief Executive Officer. Terra Carroll, President and CEO of the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce and also a member of the hospital’s board of governors, served as master of ceremonies.

Watch the ER at Sweetwater Groundbreaking Ceremony → 

‘Amazing Support’

The event’s turnout “demonstrates the amazing support the hospital continues to receive from the community it serves,” said O’Loughlin. “I’m really proud of our team and the direction we are taking as a healthcare organization. We are committed to meeting the growing healthcare needs of the Aiken [County] community and offering convenient, high-quality care close to home.”

O’Loughlin highlighted other recent hospital accomplishments, including:

  • Introduction of the WATCHMAN™ implant for patients with atrial fibrillation
  • The recruitment of additional primary care physicians and specialists to meet the needs of the community
  • A new graduate medical education program
  • Expansion of electrophysiology and clinical services in 2022 to increase Aiken Regional’s capabilities as a trauma center

Emergency Care Close to Home

The arrival of the ER at Sweetwater is especially timely as COVID-19 has made clear the importance of access to top-notch, nearby emergency care.

Chris Deloach, director of Aiken County emergency management services, emphasized the importance of the new ER at Sweetwater, as it relates to increasing positive outcomes for residents who need care for a possible stroke or heart attack. “The impact that this facility brings to patients and their family members in giving them an opportunity to receive the care they need close to home is just outstanding,” he said.

“Emergency departments became the point of care for so many during the pandemic when people began to lose some of their fear about seeking care, but still were unable to see their regular doctor,” said Gerald Gordon, MD, FACP, infectious disease specialist and Chairman of the Board of Governors at Aiken Regional Medical Centers. "Emergency and critical care services were then overwhelmed.

“Construction of ER at Sweetwater is another example of how Aiken Regional Medical Centers is transforming healthcare delivery for our area. By bringing the needed resources to residents of our community, Aiken Regional is placing the health of its community at the very top,” he said. “Residents can be assured that top-notch care will be close to home when minutes really matter, especially in cases of stroke, heart attack or other severe illness that require rapid diagnosis and care.”

Scheduled to Open in Summer 2022

The full-service emergency department, ER at Sweetwater, to be located at the intersection of Austin Graybill Road and Market Plaza Drive in North Augusta, will be staffed 24/7 by physicians and other emergency medicine specialists. It is scheduled to open the summer of 2022 and will serve all ages.