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Chemical smell, wet weather delays construction on hospital

DULUTH - What's been billed as the most high-tech hospital on Atlanta's northside is three months behind schedule because people raised a stink about its roof.

While not the only reason for the delay, the smell of tar sealant played a big role.

It was so offensive to patients in the nearby outpatient center that roofing was halted on Gwinnett Medical Center Duluth until an updated and odor-free coating arrived.

Originally slated to be launched in July, the $92 million hospital will instead open in October, said Paula Martin, spokeswoman for nonprofit Gwinnett Hospital System Inc.

Georgia's cold, wet winter also slowed progress on the five-story medical center at Pleasant Hill and Howell Ferry roads.

But another construction hang-up has a positive twist, Martin said.

In the midst of building the 81-bed hospital, officials realized they could snag one of the newest versions of imaging equipment to hit the market. The machine, which required a few last-minute construction adjustments to accommodate, combines a nuclear medicine camera with CAT-scan technology that enables technicians to see three-dimensional internal images.

The equipment fits the hospital's all-digital look, which includes wireless Internet, bar coding technology and paperless record keeping.

Gwinnett Medical Center Duluth Administrator Lea Bay has called it the most technologically advanced health care facility in metro Atlanta's northern suburbs.

The nearly 180,000-square-foot medical center is replacing the roughly 60-year-old Joan Glancy Memorial Hospital - the first hospital in the county. While Gwinnett Medical Center Duluth caters to the area's growing number of affluent residents, Joan Glancy also keeps its rehab center where patients recover from illness and injury.