VALDOSTA -- Beginning Jan. 3, South Georgia Medical Center will staff its Outpatient Center and Admissions area 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The expanded hours of operation will serve the non-emergency admission needs of persons with physician orders for inpatient and outpatient services, early morning surgical admits, scheduled Cesarean section patients, and visitors who have been called to the hospital to see new babies and critically ill family members. True emergencies and women in labor will continue utilizing the Emergency Department.

For years, individuals and families who have come to the hospital after regular visiting hours have had to enter the facility through the Emergency Department.

"For the safety of our patients, we have to lock down our facility at 9 p.m.," said Randy Sauls, chief operating officer. "The Emergency

Department was the one entrance that was kept open and staffed with a security officer. As a result, it became the after-hours entryway into the hospital."

While the main lobby offers the easiest access to the patient floors during the daytime, the Outpatient Center and Admissions area will be staffed with a security officer and others to assist individuals after 9 p.m.

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