MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – McLeod Health announced Tuesday that they plan to build a new hospital in the Carolina Forest area of Horry County.

“We have filed a Certificate of Need with the State, as required, demonstrating the need for a hospital in this location,” Monica Vehige, Administrator of McLeod Health said.

According to the U.S. Census, Horry County is one of the fastest growing counties in South Carolina and Carolina Forest is one of the fastest growing areas of the county. Federal and state statistics demonstrate the need for additional beds in this area.

“Pending approval from the Department of Health and Environment Control, our plans are to build a 4-story hospital with up to 48-beds on our 42-acre Carolina Forest campus, where we already have 2 outpatient buildings,” said Vehige. “The ongoing development of services at the McLeod Health Carolina Forest campus is intended to offer coordinated services across the healthcare continuum and to address the need for value-based services to ensure good health for the residents living in Carolina Forest and Myrtle Beach communities.”

In the 2020 South Carolina Health Plan developed by SC DHEC, Horry County needs an additional 155 hospital beds by 2024. The need for general hospital beds is determined through the consideration of current utilization and projected population growth with the goal of having beds available within approximately 30 minutes’ travel time.

The addition of the hospital at this location will provide healthcare services needed by the local community and will be part of continued assessment of medical needs and recruitment of specialists and physicians to the area to serve patients and their families on the Coast.

“The current and projected population of Horry County, as well as the seasonal spikes we experience due to tourism is a major influence on the growing demand for healthcare services in our county,” Vehige said. “Additionally, our current COVID-19 pandemic response demonstrated the insufficient hospital bed capacity in Horry County. Even without a pandemic, this shortage will become even more apparent as the population grows.”

The planned $56 million hospital will have 4 operating suites and will be available for patients from the Carolina Forest Emergency Department that need continuing care, according to Vehige.

Additionally, patients from this community, who have various illnesses or require surgery, will find care closer to their home. McLeod said they hope to have the new hospital completed by 2023.