Waccamaw Community Hospital was created by the Georgetown Hospital System to serve the growing area of northern Georgetown County. The vision was to provide a cutting-edge facility with a comfortable yet upscale feel, high-quality healthcare, a healing environment for patients, and a pleasant and efficient work space for physicians and staff.

The challenge of designing a 200,000-square-foot facility to meet the architectural control requirements and comfortably fit in the laid-back, historic fishing village of Murrells Inlet was accomplished by using a protect-ed wetlands and a large retention pond as natural buffers to the facility, along with the low-country coastal architectural vernacular of warm, muted colors in the brick and EIFS façade; low, sloping metal roofing; and large overhangs.

Project category: New construction (completed October 2002)

Chief administrator: Gayle Resetar, COO, (843) 652-1001

Firm: Curtis Group Architects, Ltd., (214) 378-9810

Design team: Robin Savage, Principal (The Robins & Morton Group, General Contractor); Steve Lucy, Principal (Jaster Quintanilla & Associates, Structural Engineer); Steve Burch, Principal (Nash Lipsey Burch, MPE Engineers); Bob Nimon, President (Genesis Healthcare International, Med Equipment Planners)

Photography: Chris McFaul

Total building area (GSF): 190,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $178

Total cost (excluding land): $33,800,000

The southern low-country charm extends inside, as well. The public enters the facility through a warm and airy lobby and mall, designed as a southern casual avenue for access to all departments and services. They stroll through a variety of spaces that feature brick pilasters, palm trees, gold-tone colors, indirect lighting, lounge seating areas, a sidewalk café;, and even a few rocking chairs.

Behind all this low-country charm is a state-of-the-art medical facility designed for the most efficient delivery of healthcare services possible. The departments are arranged to optimize adjacencies and cross-utilization of staff and equipment, and to provide efficient flow for both staff and patients. All departments and spaces are designed with patients, staff, equipment, and technology in mind. Warm color schemes, wood tones, and indirect lighting throughout provide both patient and staff comfort, while providing the space required for the latest (and future) needs in equipment and technology.

The nursing units on the upper floors are designed in a 28-bed size for staffing efficiency. The layout of these units minimizes travel distance for caregivers, separates public access from service and utility access, provides ample storage and support space, and even provides multiple family spaces, such as the bay-windowed family rooms at the end of each wing.

Patient rooms are large and designed to give a residential feel. The layout provides for patient privacy and easy caregiver access, while giving the patient a view of the exterior and television. A foldout sofa provides ample space for family and visitors. All medical devices are hidden behind artwork unless in use.

To meet the growing needs of the community, the facility is designed with flexibility for future expansion, both vertically and horizontally. The technology incorporates the latest advances in medical equipment and telecommunications, including wireless data, charting, digital imaging, and telemetry. The patient beds provide the latest in patient care and staff safety advancements. All technologies used help streamline staff work flow, resulting in better patient care.