PHYSICIANS, PROFESSORS AND PARTNERSHIPS: CaroMont's Belmont medical center--set to open in the next few years--is already creating opportunity for the area.

 
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When CaroMont Regional Medical Center-Belmont opens on land leased from Belmont Abbey College, it will be another check mark on the hospital's $325 million list of facilities improvements and--through a partnership with the school --will further accommodate growth in eastern Gaston County.

The hospital, located off Exit 26 on Interstate 85, is expected to open by 2023 and will create an estimated 300 jobs by year three of operation, says CaroMont President and CEO Chris Peek. Belmont, on the eastern edge of Gaston County, borders the Catawba River and is bisected by 1-85, the main connector to Mecklenburg County and Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

" For the first time since the early 1970s, the North Carolina State Medical Facilities Plan identified the need for additional hospital beds in Gaston County. We were already seeing patient volumes increase," says Peek, who adds the CaroMont system sees nearly 1 million patient interactions annually. "And we're pleased the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Health Service Regulation and the North Carolina State Health Coordinating Council recognized the need as well."

The full offering of services is still being planned, Peek says, but the Belmont hospital will have an emergency department, a 66-bed inpatient unit for admission or observation, a labor and delivery unit, operating rooms and surgical capabilities as well as diagnostic services with a laboratory and imaging. "Our plans also include a medical-office building for outpatient services and physician offices," he says.

In addition to leasing the land from Belmont Abbey, the college's new health-sciences program, designed to work closely with the coming hospital, will begin accepting students this fall. The impact will benefit the college, city and region, says interim Provost Linda Delene.

"This is no accident. This is an intentional development of strength and will change the character of this county and this area because of the collaborative nature of what we're doing," Delene says. "This is so different than everyone trying to build their own birdhouse and saying, 'My birdhouse is better than yours.' This is everyone trying to raise the opportunities for the county [in] employment and health care. We have a group of people sitting down with each other and talking about how they can do things together, and it's been awesome."

The ultimate goal is to increase access to health care across the...

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