"The trend in health care is to focus on access, cost structure and convenience," said Chris Kane, WellStar's senior vice president of strategic planning and business development. "Developing innovative outpatient campuses addresses all of these objectives."
Kane said that WellStar officials have had initial conversations with neighbors about the $50 million project, and that executives plan to sit down next week with community groups to discuss the proposal. The surgery center will offer outpatient procedures, such as Lasik eye surgery.
WellStar intends to request a Certificate of Need from the state department of community health on May 24. The process will take at least 120 days, and with complications, could end up taking multiple years, Kane said.
Reports that construction could start this year are rather optimistic, Kane said.
The property, at 3624 Providence Road, is across Roswell Road near East Cobb Park. Providence Road is a two-lane street that leads to Dodgen Middle and Walton High schools, and is surrounded by residential subdivisions.
Appeals by any competitors, such as Tenet Healthcare, which operates North Fulton Regional Hospital in Alpharetta, may delay the project.
"Our preference would be that the other hospitals do not oppose this CON request," Kane said, but "I don't know what their view of the world is. We would hope all the hospitals would adopt a live and let live philosophy."
Kane said WellStar would also need the county to rezone the property from its current R-20 residential status.
Commissioner Bob Ott, in whose district the property is situated, said he first learned of the idea about a year ago from WellStar CEO Dr. Gregory Simone.
"I told him that before anything moved forward, there would have to be open and frank discussions with the community about what is going in there, and Dr. Simone agreed," Ott said. "Obviously, it's very conceptual right now. I would have to see more information before I can say whether I support the project or not."
The health care facility's impact on traffic will also be a major issue.
Christine Stasco, 45, has lived in east Cobb for 16 years and often drives her son to Dodgen Middle School. Providence Road, which goes up a hill from Roswell Road, she said, "is crawling in the morning."