Beebe breaks ground for South Coastal Health Campus

Beebe Healthcare on Thursday held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the South Coastal Health Campus on Del. 17, south of Clarksville. From left, are Beebe Healthare CEO Jeffrey Fried; Barry Hamp, executive director of Beebe Healthcare Oncology Services; State Sen. Gerald Hocker; and Kelli Meoli and Michael Meoli, two of the “I Believe in Beebe” campaign co-chairs.  (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

MILLVILLE — Sometime in 2020, possibly early in the year, emergency department services and cancer treatment will be much closer to home for residents in southeastern Sussex County.

Shovels of dirt Thursday marked the ceremonial groundbreaking start of Beebe Healthcare’s South Coastal Health Campus — a year-round freestanding emergency department and a second location for Beebe’s award-winning cancer center.

“A little over 100 years ago James and Richard Beebe started a hospital in Lewes,” said Beebe Healthcare CEO Jeffrey Fried. “Back in those days it was really to serve the populations of Lewes and Rehoboth. Since that time as our community has grown Beebe Healthcare has grown along with it. We recognize that while many people come to the hospital for in-patient care most who use our health care system these days really use it on an outpatient basis.”

“We have over years looked to expand our footprint to reach out to people in the community to make our service easier for them to access,” Mr. Fried said.

“We do need this facility,” said State Sen. Gerald Hocker, among the many “Beebe Babies” on hand for the groundbreaking. “There isn’t an area that I know of that is growing any faster … between Bethany Beach, Selbyville, Roxana. I am just so happy.”

The projected cost of the South Coastal project is approximately $29 million. It is part of the largest expansion project in Beebe’s 100-plus year history. Totaling more than $200 million, multi-pronged plans include conversion of semi-private rooms to private rooms and other enhancements at the Lewes hospital campus and a new specialty surgical hospital in Rehoboth.

Michael Meoli takes the microphone from wife Kelli as they join fellow “I Believe in Beebe”
campaign co-chairs Terry and Vanessa Megee at podium during Thursday’s South
Coastal Health Campus groundbrealking ceremony. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

The South Coastal cancer center will feature the same comprehensive care as already provided at Tunnell Cancer Center near Rehoboth Beach.

“It’s not just radiation and it’s not just chemotherapy. Many patients need both,” said Alex Sydnor, Beebe’s Vice President for External Affairs. “So, we will have both medical oncologists and radiation oncologists here. We will have the same other services.”

Cancer survivor Lori Roessler shared her experience as a Tunnell Cancer Center patient. The staff became her “angels” during her year of treatment.

“Never did I wait for an appointment, lab work or treatment. The staff is very aware of what you are going through. Not once did I fell alone, neglected or unimportant. All of us have been touched by cancer,” said Ms. Roessler. “I now have a 5-year-old grandson who I am happy to be able to watch grow. I thank you Beebe and Tunnell Cancer Center for my life.”

Among the many people attending Beebe Healthcare’s groundbreaking for the South
Coastal Health Campus: Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin and Sussex County
Emergency Medical Services Director Bob Stuart. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

The new emergency department and cancer center on Roxana Road (Del. 17) will augment full diagnostic imaging, physical rehabilitation services, laboratory and walk-in care that is currently offered on Del. 26 in Millville.

Dave Herbert, chairman of Beebe Healthcare’s board of directors, said the South Coastal Health Campus will significantly “improve access to high quality healthcare. It will be easier and quicker to get the healthcare that you need right here.” Mr. Herbert added that one of Beebe’s greatest assets is its great physicians and quality and compassionate staff.

“We recognized the needs of the community,” said Emergency Services physician Dr. Nicholas Perchiniak. “We are especially excited to be able to bring care closer to home for the people that live in these areas.”

“I think it is important to remember that none of this would be possible without the support of the community, without the generous charitable donations that come from the community members,” Dr. Perchiniak said. “Along those lines, I am incredibly proud to announce today, that our group, the Sussex Emergency Associates, will be donating $500,000 to the “I Believe in Beebe” campaign. We see that as an investment in this community, in our community.”

Barry Hamp, executive director of Beebe’s oncology services, said Thursday’s event was more than a groundbreaking. “We’re doing more than that here today. We are turning some dirt and we are going to break some ground,” he said. “But it’s about a celebration and as Mr. Fried said we are finally going to be in this area to provide you the services that Beebe has always provided elsewhere.”

Participating in the groundbreaking were “I Believe in Beebe” campaign co-chairs: Kelli and Michael Meoli and Vanessa and Terry Megee. They offered a tote-board update in efforts to raise $34 million.

“We announced on the 29th of October … that we were at $29 million collected so far of our $34 million,” said Mr. Megee.

“The $29 million raised so far is fantastic,” said Mr. Meoli.

Sen. Hocker shared some more thoughts.

“My life with Beebe started 70 years ago when my mother gave birth and brought me home from Beebe Hospital to the town of Millville. I was raised in Millville. For many, many years we had one doctor in the Millville area. If you wanted another doctor you had to drive all the way to Selbyville, or go to Rehoboth or Millsboro,” said Sen. Hocker. “Well, have we come a long way? When I first got elected 16-plus years ago we had an emergency center, Beebe Hospital, in Millville. They had to close because of the law. They could not operate as a walk-in center. If they couldn’t offer 24/7, they could not be there. It was my legislation that changed that, that they could close the emergency center and still operate as a walk-in center, which they have done, and they done very well.”

John and Sharon Kennedy, residents of the nearby Bear Trap development, addressed the need for access to emergency department services and the cancer center.

“We moved here full time in 2010. We have had several occasions to use the ER in Lewes … where I have had to use it. While trying to get me to the ER, we wondered what the trip up there would be like if we had to make that trip on a Sunday afternoon in the summer time,” said Mr. Kennedy. “So, the ER closer to home is great for everyone. Sharon is a 20-year breast cancer survivor, so we understand the importance of having a facility such as this close to home. It will no doubt make these surrounding developments attractive to those people who would like to move here permanently. We are both grateful to Beebe hospital and the Beebe Foundation for bringing expanded facilities to our neighborhood.”

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