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ECHA: Construction on new urgent care clinic to start soon

Escambia County Healthcare Authority (ECHA) and Atmore Community Hospital (ACH) officials announced Dec. 8 that construction of the new urgent care clinic will begin in the first quarter of 2021.

According to a release, the clinic is projected to open in the fourth quarter of next year, and will be located on Highway 21 near Interstate 65, right across from Wind Creek Casino and Hotel.

ACH Director of Operations Brad Lowery said since the land swap between the city of Atmore and ECHA has been completed, they are at the point of closing documents for a loan to help finance the construction of the new urgent care clinic, which they intend it to be phase 1 of the new facility.

“It is a part of a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) loan,” Lowery said.

The USDA loan is through United Bank, Lowery said.

According to a release, the clinic will offer increased access to care for all citizens of Atmore and surrounding communities; modern facility and equipment; enhanced wellness programs and employee health programs; and easy and safe access to healthcare.

“We have spent a great deal of time researching the most successful urgent care and healthcare models across the country, working with our community leaders and developing a plan of action to build the clinic,” ECHA Chairwoman Debbie Rowell said in a release.

Lowery said if the COVID-19 did provide a silver lining, it was that it gave hospital officials time to take a step back and look at the plans of the building.

“We do think this is a really exciting and major step forward to healthcare in Atmore and really to serve the surrounding counties as well,” Lowery said. “It’s an upgrade to the urgent care, but it will allow us in the future to offer extended services.”

ECHA CEO Chris Griffin said between January and March they’ll have a groundbreaking for the new clinic.

Health Care Program Advisors is advising ECHS on the project; Johnson Development is the project manager; Goodwyn Mills Cawood is the architect; Hoar Construction of Birmingham is the construction lead; United Bank is the lending institution; and local city leaders collaborated on the project, according to a release.

“Everyone has worked very hard to make this goal a reality,” Griffin said in a release. “We have worked with officials in all segments of our community to ensure the continuum of care will be not only enhanced for future generations, but that we would build a cohesive structure together that benefits everyone.”

Lowery said construction will take some nine months to complete, and the clinic will be open in the September-October time frame.

“We do believe there will be an urgent care up in 2021,” he said.

Care at the new clinic will be delivered by an accomplished team of healthcare professionals, and will feature a lab, X-ray equipment, pharmacy and wellness care, according to a release. The clinic will work in coordination with ACH as its parent organization and will be symbiotic with the other ACH physician clinics.

Over time, ECHA officials said they’re aiming to provide access to preventative healthcare for patients.