CHARLESTON, S.C. (Sept. 9, 2022)- MUSC leadership, local community leaders and citizens of the Sea Islands gathered on Sept. 8 to break ground for the MUSC Health Sea Islands Medical Pavilion, located on Johns Island. The medical pavilion will meet the community’s needs for emergency and specialty care services to serve Kiawah, Seabrook and Johns Islands.
The more than 20,000 square foot facility will be located at 1884 Seabrook Island Road, near Bohicket Marina. The Sea Islands community is expected to undergo significant population growth over the next few years, especially those residents 65 and older. The Sea Islands are also geographically isolated, situated more than 20 miles from the nearest hospital. The area also accommodates a large seasonal population of tourists, many of whom have trouble navigating local health care services.
“It can take up to 45 minutes to get to the nearest hospital from the Sea Islands. That’s too long for an emergency situation such as a stroke, where every minute counts. As the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, we are committed to delivering the best possible care, closest to home,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president. “This new medical pavilion will provide rapid access to outstanding care for the entire Sea Islands community.”
As part of the MUSC Health system’s overarching strategy, the MUSC Health Charleston Division has worked to provide better community access and local care in the greater Tri-County region, as well as coastal communities to the north and south of Charleston. This enables better capacity at the flagship facilities, which offer specialized and complex care downtown while enhancing overall accessibility and continuity of care for patients and families, especially in underserved communities. Since 2019, four new multispecialty ambulatory care platforms have opened in West Ashley, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant.
In addition to 24/7 emergency care, the facility will offer two trauma rooms, a rooftop helicopter pad, and a medical office building that will provide primary and specialty care, including imaging and lab services, cardiology and physical therapy. A telemedicine network will connect the entire facility to some of the nation’s top providers at MUSC Health in downtown Charleston. The Town of Kiawah Island donated $1 million to create a healing, restful green space and garden adjacent to the new facility.
“Accessibility to the wonderful health system and hospitals we have here has been a concern, so it was exciting to hear about this project,” said Town of Kiawah Mayor John Labriola. “My hat’s off to the MUSC Board of Trustees and the institution’s leadership, because getting a certificate of need is not easy… personally, I look forward to the ribbon cutting and seeing our garden that will be named for the Town of Kiawah.”
The project was made possible in part by Kiawah Partners, which was acquired by South Street Partners in 2013, who donated 6 acres of land to the Medical University Hospital Authority (MUSC Health), valued at $4.85 million.
“This project was initiated to meet the huge need for medical services on Kiawah Island, Seabrook, and Johns Island. With no convenient emergency healthcare options currently available, we have been working for seven-plus years to figure out a way to bring accessible healthcare to the Sea Islands,” said Chris Randolph, South Street Partners. “Thanks to MUSC, we will soon have a world-class medical facility that provides so much more than what we had originally envisioned. We couldn’t be more pleased to have been able to donate the land for this project and feel very grateful to partner with such an excellent health care system.”
Of the estimated $30 million needed to fund the project, MUSC is committed to raising $17 million in private support. To date, it has received more than $9.5 million in confirmed gifts, with many coming from local residents.
“Private support is critical to the long-term success of the MUSC Health Sea Islands Medical Pavilion because of the many financial challenges that come with operating a medical facility in this community,” said Kate Azizi, vice president for Institutional Advancement. “One challenge is the low population density of the Sea Islands. While this is an aging population that needs timely access to medical care – there aren’t enough people living in these communities full time to sustain our operations. Philanthropic support helps fill those gaps, allowing us to deliver the best care possible where and when it’s needed.”
Donors Chris and DeeDee Gibson are giving $2 million to the project. In recognition of their generosity, the physical therapy space will be named in their honor. “My family has been coming to Kiawah for close to 40 years,” Chris Gibson said. “When my wife DeeDee and I built a home here, she had one request: that there was a hospital nearby in case of an emergency. All these years later, we are excited to contribute to the new MUSC Health Sea Islands Medical Pavilion and to help make these vital medical services available to our neighbors on Kiawah, Seabrook and Johns islands.”
“The construction of a full-fledged medical facility with emergency services is a dream come true for all Johns, Kiawah and Seabrook Islands,” said local resident Pam Harrington, who donated $2 million and will name the emergency department after the Harrington family. “As our population continues to grow and more folks are retiring to our area, the demand for medical services grows with it! Being a Kiawah/Cassique resident for many years, the addition of a medical pavilion fills a real need that has existed over several decades. Prior to my 40-plus years in real estate on the islands I was a practicing ICU nurse. This medical center is near and dear to my heart! As a thank you and show of appreciation to all who have been so supportive of my success, here, on the Sea Islands, it seems befitting to take this opportunity to give back in a meaningful way.”
Construction is expected to conclude in late 2023.
Seabrook Mayor John Gregg – “It is indeed my pleasure to welcome MUSC to Seabrook Island, as our local community will be well served by the capabilities of this facility and the practitioners who will staff it. We look forward to having better availability of care, ranging from emergency room treatment, to advanced diagnostics for the ailments, bumps, pains, scrapes, stings, and strains that come with having an active and diverse population.”
MUSC Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Charles Schulze – “On behalf of the board, I want to acknowledge, commend, and deeply, deeply thank you for your dedication hard work and the public private collaboration that is taking place to get us to where we are today. As an air force veteran of the Vietnam war, I know the importance and necessity of teamwork. When you have a complex mission ahead of you in those situations, your unity as a team is your biggest strength… And it didn’t matter where you live, where you were from or what your background was in our military. You learned that persistence, perseverance, collaboration, and expertise are critical to the success of a mission. And it’s been no different in this case. When the board began to discuss the feasibility of this project, we knew it wasn’t going to happen without teamwork and vision. Not only from everybody at MUSC, but also from the community here in the sea islands.”
MUSC Health System CEO and Executive Vice President of Health Affairs Dr. Pat Cawley – “What makes this project challenging is that it doesn’t fit into normal health constructs. We spent a lot of time with the community, trying to gauge what was needed and it was clear that there was tremendous community support for this project and it was the engagement with the concept of neighbors caring for neighbors and the work of the community to reach out to state officials and regulators that helped make this project a reality. MUSC Health is proud to be a part of this community and its health care provider of choice, and we are humbled by the level of support we are receiving to bring this shared vision to reality.”
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, with a unique mission to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates more than 3,000 students in six colleges – Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy – and trains more than 850 residents and fellows in its health system. MUSC brought in more than $327.6 million in research funds in fiscal year 2021, leading the state overall in research funding. MUSC also leads the state in federal and National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $220 million. For information on academic programs, visit web.musc.edu
As the health care system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality and safest patient care while educating and training generations of outstanding health care providers and leaders to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Patient care is provided at 14 hospitals with approximately 2,500 beds and five additional hospital locations in development; more than 350 telehealth sites, with connectivity to patients’ homes; and nearly 750 care locations situated in all regions of South Carolina. In 2022, for the eighth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets totaling $5.1 billion. The nearly 25,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers, scientists, students, affiliates and care team members who deliver and support groundbreaking education, research, and patient care.