Town re-approves water, sewer for new hospital

MAMA helicopter photo by Vickie Carpenter

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

The Franklin Town council re-approved a water and sewer allocation for the new site of Angel Medical Center (AMC) during its February meeting on Monday night. The request was made by AMC and HCA healthcare staff for the second time, with the first request lapsing due to delays casued by COVID-19. A ground breaking ceremony is set for April. 

Despite delays, the new Angel Medical Center facility is expected to be completed on schedule, with a projected opening date in 2022. 

The new facility will be located at the intersection of 441 and Hunnicut Lane in Franklin, about a mile from the current hospital. Plans for the new AMC facility have remained the same, however, the price tag as increased substantially, now projected to be close to $70 million. 

The new facility will not exceed the 30-bed capacity of the current Angel Medical Center; rooms will be larger and equipment will be upgraded and expanded services and structural and safety requirements will be met when the new building is ready in the third quarter of 2022.     

Although the new facility does not mean the return of labor and delivery for Macon County residents, HCA has partnered with Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) for a women’s health care center in Franklin. MAHEC opened its new office in the 56 Building in the medical park behind AMC on Jan. 6.  Suzanne Dixon, MD, OB-GYN will be providing prenatal, postnatal, and gynecological care.

Another addition to the new location will be an all-weather helicopter pad to serve a new helicopter from Mission. Mission Health’s new helicopter – Mountain Area Medical Airlift (MAMA) – is an upgrade from an Airbus EC135 to an Airbus EC145. The EC145 has more interior space giving nurses and paramedics better access to patients. It also carries more fuel increasing MAMA’s range, more powerful engines for a higher payload capacity, and more sophisticated instruments.

The new helicopter is larger than the previous helicopter used as MAMA and that means it has more room for the patient and the crew, according to John Grindstaff, supervisor for Mission’s air medical services.

It is able to safely land in the same size area as the current MAMA aircraft and has a 31% larger patient care area. MAMA has bases at Mission Hospital in Asheville and Angel Medical Center in Franklin. While it takes about an hour and 20 minutes to drive the 68 miles between the two without traffic, it is but a 25-minute flight.