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Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach on March 16, 2020. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

Grand Strand Health on Thursday announced plans for a $215 million expansion of two Horry County medical facilities, including upgrading the South Strand Medical Center to a full-service hospital.  

The healthcare provider is seeking state approval to construct a three-story inpatient tower at its main Myrtle Beach hospital, and it's also proposed major renovations at the South Strand center. The South Strand plans call for expanding the emergency room, constructing four operating rooms and adding acute care beds. The projects would add a combined 111 hospital beds.

“Grand Strand Medical Center continues to experience significant growth in our inpatient services despite previous bed additions," said Marsha Myers, chief operating officer of Grand Strand Health, in a news release. "Placing a small number of beds at South Strand Medical Center will provide the needed capacity while improving the access to inpatient care within the county.”

Grand Strand is the fourth provider to submit a hospital proposal in the last six months. Conway Medical Center and McLeod Health want to build hospitals in Carolina Forest while Tidelands Health has applied to construct one in Socastee.

All four have stressed the importance of meeting the healthcare demands of the area's surging population. Earlier this year, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported that the county needs 155 additional hospital beds by 2024 to keep up with the growth.

Before any of these projects can break ground, however, they must be approved by DHEC. That process involves a provider proving that a new facility is needed. Competitors can challenge a hospital's plans, delaying the approval process by months or even years. And if DHEC determines that two proposals are competing, the state can decide to allow one organization's facility to be constructed and reject another.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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I'm the editor of myhorrynews.com and the Carolina Forest Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Horry County, South Carolina. I cover county government, the justice system and agriculture. Know of a story that needs to be covered? Call me at 843-488-7236.

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