CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – MUSC Health announced Thursday plans to move forward with a project aimed at bringing emergency care to people living in remote areas of southern Charleston County.

In researching plans for a new facility, MUSC said the sea islands – including Johns, Kiawah, and Seabrook Islands – are geographically isolated with residents located more than 20 miles away from the nearest hospital.

These coastal communities, according to MUSC’s plans, are home to a large population of seniors, who generally have a need for both outpatient and emergent care services. They say double-digit growth is expected over the next five years, with about 31,000 additional 65+ residents in the service area.

The addition would provide enhanced access to MUSC Health’s primary stroke center and chest pain center.

Kiawah Partners is donating six acres of land to the Medical University Hospital Authority to build a free-standing emergency department and medical office along a portion of Seabrook Island Road near the Bohicket Marina.

“After seven years of working side by side with MUSC to bring this important project to fruition, we could not be prouder to donate the six acres of land needed for the development and to continue our partnership with the MUSC team,” said Chris Randolph with Kiawah Partners.

The emergency department will include four exam rooms, two trauma rooms, imaging lab services and a rooftop helicopter pad – including MUSC Health says the medical offices will offer both primary and specialty care.

“This new facility will bring vitally important world-class medical care to Kiawah, Seabrook and the Sea Islands residents, which will only add to the exceptional experience that comes with living here,” Randolph said.

Additionally, a telemedicine network will connect the entire facility to MUSC Health providers in downtown Charleston for additional care and consultation.

“People living in this area have to travel 30 or 45 minutes to reach the nearest hospital, sometimes more depending on traffic. That’s a big problem for someone having a stroke or cardiac event,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and vice president for Health Affairs, University. “This new facility brings that care directly into the community. We’re extremely grateful to Kiawah Partners for helping to make that possible.”

Leaders say the project is estimated to cost $24 million. MUSC is working to raise $15 million of that cost in private support.

McMillan Pazdan Smith (MPS) was chosen to design the project back in June.

Construction on the Sea Islands project is expected to begin in early 2022 and conclude in fall 2023.