Health operations set for expansions in Aynor, S.C.

Jun. 12--Marion Regional Healthcare System is working to bring a physicians practice to Aynor.

The system has "identified a parcel of land and expect to close on the purchase in the next few days," Chief Executive Gene Tucker wrote in an e-mail.

Also, Conway Regional Medical Center, which operates a family physician practice in Aynor, is looking for land to expand its operations.

Health care leaders say population growth and the need for additional medical access in Aynor are reasons the expansions are essential.

Aynor Mayor Rob Taylor, who is also chairman of the Aynor Healthcare Committee, said there are short- and long-term health care concerns that have to be addressed.

The Aynor Healthcare Committee was formed to address the limited health care in the town, along with identifying solutions for Aynor residents, Taylor said.

The nine-member committee was created in January and consists of local business owners and community and government leaders.

"We approached Marion, Conway and Loris [health care systems], since those are the main hospitals in the Aynor area that people go to, to see what they could do" to help establish a medical facility in Aynor, Taylor said.

Short-term goals include increasing the number of primary care physicians in Aynor, Taylor said. Long-term goals include establishing an outpatient medical center -- similar to Seacoast Medical Center in Loris, he said.

Marion Regional's board of directors gave Tucker a thumbs-up to spend $1 million to establish a physician practice of "at least one physician and allow growth if necessary," Tucker said in the e-mail.

Construction on the office could begin in late July and be complete before the end of the year, Tucker wrote. "It is our understanding that the services we propose should be exempt from [certificate of need] requirements," he added. "However, we will submit our plans to all agencies -- city, county, state -- for their review and consideration."

Conway Regional's physician office has been in Aynor roughly 17 years, and spokeswoman Julie Rajotte said "the practice has outgrown its current office location.

"We are looking to purchase property in the area to accommodate this growing practice along with the outpatient physical therapy office, which is also affiliated with Conway Medical Center."

Loris Healthcare System, which owns Loris Community Hospital and Seacoast Medical Center, does not have any medical operations in Aynor.

Spokeswoman Celeste Bondurant-Bell said Loris Healthcare is "exploring ways to expand and enhance the current medical services in Aynor."