Bayhealth’s new Milford campus plans OK’d by panel

 

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Members of the Human Resources Board Review Committee including Mark Thompson of Dover, left, and William Love of Bear, right held a meeting inside the second floor conference room of the Thomas Collins Building in Dover Tuesday to review Bayhealth’s Milford Hospital Application. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — By a unanimous vote on Tuesday the Health Resources Board Review Committee recommended approval for Bayhealth’s plans for its new Milford health campus.

By law, every new hospital and every health care facility expanding its size by a significant amount must have its plans approved by the Health Resources Board.

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Bayhealth President and CEO Terry Murphy, left, and Senior Vice President of Government Relations Paul Lakeman review the meeting’s agenda before the opening comments. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

After Tuesday, Bayhealth has inched even farther along the lengthy road to seeing a completed health campus in 2019.

“We are pleased with the results of the Board Review Committee because it brings us one step closer to bringing a state-of-the-art health care campus to Sussex County,” said Bayhealth President and CEO Terry Murphy.

In its decision for recommendation the committee had to ensure that Bayhealth met all seven of the predetermined criteria. They ranged from the area’s need for the project to the company’s financial viability to conduct the proposed project.

After Bayhealth submitted its application last Oct. 17, it has since worked closely with the committee to ensure all necessary information and clarifications have been made.

Although Bayhealth is proposing a 150-acre multi-facility campus, the application focuses on the inpatient hospital and emergency room, not the various facilities that will provide a broad spectrum of outpatient services such as diagnostic testing and convenient access to general practitioners and specialists including a children’s health care facility run in cooperation with Nemours.

“Based on the many letters of support we’ve received and no opposition at all, it’s time to put it out to the board,” committee member Mark Thompson said after mentioning that Bayhealth “absolutely” met all seven criteria.

One of the biggest influences on recommending approval aside from the written application was a tour of the existing Milford Memorial Hospital committee members took last month.

“I think for the committee to see it firsthand really put it in the right perspective,” Mr. Thompson said.

Milford Memorial, which sits on a 22-acre property, is an out-of-date facility struggling to meet code requirements.

The committee said it is impressed with the quality of care despite the challenging work environment and aging infrastructure.

The most notable troubles Milford Memorial faces are power outages, and HVAC and lighting systems that do not meet code regulations.

“I’m concerned about the potential safety issues they will face with the current facility and I think creating a new hospital is really the only course of action they have,” committee member William Love said.

A brief discussion of improving the current Milford Memorial was held before the committee agreed that staying put isn’t a viable option for Bayhealth.

“The alternative of staying in place would be more costly and less effective and I don’t think it’s a realistic alternative to be quite honest,” committee member Scott Perkins said.

The new facility will have only private rooms, unlike the current hospital which has shared rooms, but will have less inpatient beds. The number will come down from the current 168 to below 140.

The reduction isn’t about having fewer patients, it’s about the improved care that Bayhealth estimates the new campus will allow, causing hospital stays to reduce by about 10 percent. The average stay in the new facility is expected to be about 4.6 days.

The reduced number of beds also fits into state requirements — the state determines an approved range of beds based on the population the facility will service which includes the covered area codes and a margin for visitors and passers-through.

The hospital additionally will have a helicopter pad to allow timely transportation of patients in need of emergency care.

“This is going to be the biggest reinvestment into Sussex County,” Mr. Murphy said of the $300 million health campus. “We’ve been pleased with the extensive support we’ve received from the state of Delaware, Sussex County and town of Milford.”

More information about Bayhealth’s plans for the Milford health campus to be located along Wilkins Road and Cedar Creek Road can be found online at imaginede.com.

The Health Resources Board will vote on Bayhealth’s application at its upcoming March 24 meeting.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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