HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - McLeod Health will open its first family medicine practice in Carolina Forest. The practice will open Monday, Nov. 28. It's the first of many practices to move into the future seven-structure outpatient medical complex, a first for McLeod Health.
The Carolina Forest complex is located at International Drive and Highway 31. According to McLeod, the family physicians will specialize in your basic primary care as well as chronic conditions such as heart disease, bone and joint care, women's health, pediatrics and ear, eye, nose and throat care. The office can see patients ranging from infants to senior citizens.
The four physicians that will practice there are decreasing the estimated 15 family medicine physician shortage in the Myrtle Beach area, according to Monica Vehige, McLeod Health's vice president for ambulatory care, and also a head of the major project. She said a national study determines the medical need for communities. Based on the study, McLeod decided to bring the family practice to the Myrtle Beach area. Based on McLeod's own research on which area would benefit most from a medical complex, it was clear the booming community of Carolina Forest had the greatest market and need.
"So we really feel like bringing four new physicians to the area, to Carolina Forest, there will be families here that can get primary care that haven't had primary care before," Vehige said.
All four of the doctors moving their practice to McLeod's Carolina Forest campus have been practicing in Little River. Two are established in Myrtle Beach, and the other two are newer to the area. One doctor is a veteran, and the other is from the Lumberton-Pembroke area.
Vehige said McLeod hopes to encourage people to have an established family doctor, instead of depending on the over-used urgent care centers or emergency rooms.
"From an efficiency standpoint and a cost standpoint, family physicians are very important," said Monica Vehige continued. "What's important about having a primary care physician is a lot of people don't have primary care. And what primary care physicians do is really serve the continuum of care, so they can help coordinate your care and that specialty care that you need. And so having that one single physician know all the different specialists an adult is seeing, or a pediatric patient is seeing, is important because they understand what's going on with your health."
The family practice is accepting new patients and same-day appointments are available.
The building the four physicians are moving in to is temporary. The family practice will move into the first of seven eventual structures, part of the complex. Vehige said the first building will open in March 2017. Once the family practice moves in to the first building, another specialty practice will move into the temporary building, waiting on their placement into the permanent complex. Vehige said the temporary building will continue to house practices waiting on permanent placement until then entire complex is finished. She estimates the entire seven-structure project to take about five years.
Each building is two stories and 40,000 square feet. The entire campus is 280,000 square feet.
The campus is the first outpatient complex for McLeod Health. Vehige described it as a "one-stop shop." The complex will have various specialty practices. Confirmed specialty practices moving in are family medicine, urology and cardiology. She said as more structures are built, McLeod will evaluate the needs and wants of the community to determine what other types of practices will move in. She said physical therapy and, hopefully, a standalone emergency room will be part of the complex. Three hospitals are competing to move a standalone emergency room to Carolina Forest. You can read that story here.
Vehige explained how McLeod will determine which other specialty practices to bring in.
"We'll bring different specialties to the area, that either the specialists here have a long wait time that you can't get into, or there aren't those specialists in the area. We also want to work with the physicians that are currently in the area not to duplicate services, but to just offer different services that aren't being offered here today," Vehige said.
The new campus will not only bring better health care access to you, but also bring incredible job growth and an economical boost, according to Vehige.
If you want more information or would like to become a patient at the new family medicine practice the number to call is (843) 366-3799.
The official address for McLeod Health Carolina Forest is 530 International Drive, Myrtle Beach, SC 29579.