First day in North Tower

LAWRENCEVILLE - Sept. 18 marked the ribbon cutting/grand opening for Gwinnett Medical Center's newest addition. Wednesday, patients began filling the Lawrenceville campus' North Tower.

Part of the hospital's Project PATH (Planning, Advancing and Transforming Health care) initiative, construction on the eight-story, 155-bed facility began in 2007.

The state-of-the-art North Tower will add $13 million in technology and equipment, and five patient care floors to the hospital, a manifestation of GMC's vision of what health care should be.

"The North Tower is more than just a new, high-tech building, it is physical evidence of how we are transforming care to a hospitality model," said hospital CEO and President Phil Wolfe.

The new tower's interior was designed, Wolfe said, to meet the needs of physicians, patients and families and visitors. Patient rooms are larger, the decor is warmer and just about everything - from nursing stations to elevators and doorways - is geared for maximum efficiency.

Gwinnett Medical Center spokeswoman Andrea Wehrmann said the day-long process of populating the North Tower consisted of accepting new patients and transferring those in the South Tower, making way for renovations there. She was unsure about the number of rooms occupied Wednesday.

The 175-bed South Tower, built in 1984, will undergo a facelift to "mimic the North Tower design finishes," officials said. That project is still in the planning stages.

It's been a long time coming, Wolfe said, but officially opening the North Tower is another step in turning a vision into reality.

"The process began with the opening of Gwinnett Medical Center - Duluth in 2006 and today we reach another milestone in achieving our vision to transform health care in our community by opening the North Tower," Wolfe said.