New Americus Hospital

AMERICUS, Ga. (WXTX) -  Sumter Regional Hospital has been operating out of temporary FEMA sites since the March 2007 tornado.

But that's changing thanks to a new merger with Phoebe Putney Health System out of Albany.

The hospital is now officially Phoebe Sumter Medical Center after the approval of a lease by the Georgia Attorney General's Office.

Officials say the merger will not only provide quality healthcare to the area but also the financial stability needed rebuild the town's hospital that had to be leveled after the March 2007 tornado.

"If you ride around town, you may see a vacant lot where a building was blown down but this is the last big piece of the puzzle in putting our community back together," said Mayor Barry Blount.

Phoebe Sumter will keep operating at its temporary site on East Forsyth Street until a brand new medical center is built at the intersection of Highway 19 and 280.

It will include a two story medical center for area physicians and eventually a 76-bed hospital.

"There is a construction project that will take place here that will be in excess of 100 million dollars. That's a lot of construction dollars flowing through the local economy. Our goal is to use as many local or regional contractors as possible and we've set a specific goal of having over 75-80% of those dollars stay right here in this local economy," said Joel. Wernick, President and CEO of Phoebe Putney.

"Long term, it will create nursing, doctor and administrative jobs and it's going to be an economic engine for our community once it gets completed," added Mayor Blount.

Hospital officials expect to break ground at the new construction site in the fall.

The new Phoebe Sumter Medical Center is scheduled to be complete in 2011.