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Northern suburbs’ ongoing growth evident in Northside Hospital’s expansion

Northside Hospital Cherokee, crane

Northside Hospital Cherokee is undergoing is second expansion since the facility opened in 2017. Credit: David Pendered

By David Pendered

The durability of metro Atlanta’s population growth is evident in the second expansion in three years at Northside Hospital Cherokee, and at Northside’s facilities in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties.

Northside Hospital, locator map

Northside Hospital is expanding three hospitals in metro Atlanta’s northern tier amid ongoing population growth that’s to add nearly 1 million residents to the region by 2050, according to ARC estimates. Credit: Google Earth, David Pendered

An additional 956,000 residents are expected in the three counties by 2050. By then, a total of 2.26 million residents are expected to reside in these three counties, according to projections by the Atlanta Regional Commission.

In the past five months, Northside has announced expansion projects in each of the three counties. The investments are central to the Northside’s strategy to further its presence in the region. Northside isn’t the only provider in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, but it is in a significant growth phase.

Lee Echols, Northside Hospital’s vice president of marketing, said Wednesday in an email that the hospital’s development program builds upon ongoing investments in Atlanta’s northern tier:

  • “These three counties, as much as any in Georgia, have led regional growth for a couple of decades. It’s the reason Northside has established itself so firmly there.
  • “The population in Gwinnett County alone is hovering around 1 million. Health care support for that many people takes a lot of planning, expertise, and resources, and Northside is very active making sure that happens.
  • “Northside has been in a steady state of expansion in both Forsyth and Cherokee for years. We’re gearing up for the same in Gwinnett with our two hospitals there, where build-outs of our emergency services and inpatient capacities are underway.”
Northside Hospital Cherokee, crane

Northside Hospital Cherokee is undergoing is second expansion since the facility opened in 2017. Credit: David Pendered

The development of Northside Hospital Cherokee illustrates the fast pace of growth in this part of the county.

The hospital is located at the intersection of I-575 and Ga. 20. Once a fairly pastoral setting with a view of the North Georgia mountains, the area now hosts a dense array of retail shops, restaurants and other neighborhood support businesses. Ga. 20 is being widened, in part to ease access to the gateway to the hospital, Northside Cherokee Boulevard. Along Ga. 20 eastward, “for sale” signs abound to advertise parcels of 35 acres or more.

The hospital opened with a six-story tower in May 2017. In 2018, the addition of two stories was launched. In 2020, the current expansion project started and in 2021 is to open with 53 additional beds for medical/surgery patients, and 27 observation beds that can be filled on 23-hour cycles.

In Forsyth County, Northside intends to add two floors to its hospital in Cumming. The space provides for an additional 43 beds for medical/surgery patients. This follows the hospitals conversion of 16 rooms for obstetrical patients in the Women’s Center.

Northside Hospital Cherokee

Two major roadways connect with Northside Cherokee Boulevard, which is the main gateway to Northside Hospital Cherokee. The roads are state routes 20 and 140. Credit: David Pendered

In Gwinnett County, Northside is expanding the emergency department at its Lawrenceville hospital. The two-story addition is to provide 27 exam rooms and 30 observation beds.

Obstetrics are part of the expansion programs.

In Canton, Northside opened this year a two-story expansion of the Women’s Center that’s to provide a special care nursery, Level 3 neonatal intensive care service, and more space for observation, education and extended recovery.

In Cumming, Northside has received state approval to convert 16 existing beds in the Women’s Center to serve obstetrical patients.

“The Atlanta region is fortunate to have a very strong health care infrastructure. Northside is proud to contribute to it – by ensuring all people have easy access to quality care,” Echols said. “As area growth continues to explode, we have to work harder to keep pace as well as to anticipate the future.”

David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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