Both Piedmont Healthcare and its flagship hospital in Buckhead are continuing to expand.

The expansion at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital at 1968 Peachtree Road has risen above the ground, and Piedmont Healthcare this month closed on a deal to bring in another hospital, bringing the total to 11.

“One of the biggest investments we’re making is here in Buckhead,” said Kevin Brown, the president and CEO of Piedmont Healthcare, at the March 29 Buckhead Business Association meeting.

Kevin Brown, the president and CEO of Piedmont Healthcare, speaks at the March 29 Buckhead Business Association meeting. (Evelyn Andrews)

Piedmont is constructing a $450 million, 16-story building as part of a major renovation and expansion. Three of the floors are below ground. It also plans to add an additional helipad to the roof of the new tower.

Construction began last August. Part of the new building has started rising, and the first level above ground is nearly complete. The first phase of the project is expected to open in the fall of 2020, Brown said.

Piedmont Healthcare originally started with Piedmont Hospital in 1905, opening near Grant Park, Brown said. The hospital moved to Buckhead in the mid-1950s and has been in the same facility since then, causing the need for a facelift and expansion, Brown said.

“It’s the legacy and the center of where it all started,” Brown said.

The building will add 900,000 square feet of new space and 400 inpatient beds, Brown said. The new Marcus Heart and Vascular Center, funded by philanthropist Bernie Marcus and The Marcus Foundation, will be established in the building, according to the hospital’s website.

The first phase is planned to include constructing the entire outside of the building and the labs, operating rooms and heart center on the bottom levels. The upper floors, which will hold the patient beds, will be built one each year, except for 2026, when two floors will be built and the building will be complete, according to a press release.

The entire project is budgeted for $603 million and includes renovation of the existing facilities, according to a release.

The new building will be connected to and integrated with the existing main hospital building. It’s being built at the site of the former Sheffield Medical Building, which Piedmont purchased and demolished to make way for the construction.

Healthcare system doubles in size

Since Brown became CEO in 2013, the healthcare’s network has doubled, going from five to 11 hospitals. In that same time, Piedmont has increased its primary care offices from 46 to 63 and its urgent care centers from two to 21, Brown said.

“Healthcare is under a lot of pressure which is causing a lot of consolidation,” Brown said.

Piedmont Hospital closed on a deal to buy Clearview Regional Medical Center in Monroe a few days before Brown’s speech at the BBA. It is now known as Piedmont Walton Hospital, he said.

The healthcare system has about 2,000 physicians and sees about two million patients per year, or 20 percent of the state’s population, he said.

While Piedmont has made deals to buy six hospitals since Brown took over, it has denied three times as many, Brown said.

“There’s a lot of places that are in a very bad position financially,” he said.

The healthcare system is also expanding virtually. It has created a cell phone app called Piedmont On Call that allows users to be diagnosed through a video chat with a physician, but the patients have not embraced the technology, Brown said.

“It’s the best asset we have that nobody knows about it,” he said. “It’s really hard to get consumers to use it.”

In the speech, Brown also discussed Piedmont’s difficult negotiations with insurer Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. A tentative agreement has since been reached, according to Gov. Nathan Deal.