Nemours, Bayhealth top out new Sussex medical office

MILFORD — With celebratory fanfare, the final steel beam of the future Nemours/Bayhealth Medical Office Building on the new Sussex Campus was hoisted into place Wednesday afternoon.

An evergreen tree and an American flag topped the beam that was covered with signatures of event goers. The event, laced with Scandinavian traditions, symbolized the end of one part of the construction and the beginning of the final stages of the journey to add specialized care to the area.

“When we announced that we were building a hospital and outpatient center on the Sussex Campus, we used the phrase: ‘More than a hospital,’” Bayhealth President and CEO Terry Murphy said. “This 169-acre property gives us the opportunity to bring comprehensive health care to Sussex County.”

He gave accolades to Anchor Properties and Target Construction who have worked alongside Bayhealth and Nemours to make the dream a reality.

Milford City Manager Eric Norenberg signs the beam next to Nemours staffers before it it placed on top of the new building. (Delaware State News/Jennifer Antonik

The first floor of the building will be occupied by Nemours who plans on bringing specialized care for both children and seniors. They will also move their primary care offices already in Milford to the location just off Del. 1 once it is finished so everything can be in the same building.

The second floor will be occupied by Bayhealth physicians, according to Mr. Murphy.

“The one thing I hear as I go through Sussex County is the need for more physicians as the community begins to age,” he said. “I think it was about four years ago, five years ago, that we had this vision for this site and at the same time that we announced that we were moving from the downtown Milford site to down here, I got the call from Dr. [Roy] Proujansky that they were looking at expanding their services down in this part of the state.”

Valerie Briggs, of Milton, gave a heartwarming testimonial about the new Nemours Sussex Medical Office Building now under construction in Milford. The mother of eight children all with special needs, told the audience the new medical center would save her countless hours making the numerous trips a month to the new facility from her home. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Dr. Proujansky, executive vice president of Nemours and chief executive of the Delaware Valley operations, said they originally had their eyes set on Dover for their expansion. Researching demographics and other possibilities led them to Milford, instead.

“We are both thrilled and fortunate to be working with Bayhealth on this. We knew we needed to do something down here. We were quite sure it needed to be in Dover,” he explained during the ceremonial event. “And we looked closely and things. … and that changed things. We knew we needed to be in northern Sussex County.”

Bayhealth President & CEO Terry Murphy giving opening remards during Wednesday’s topping out ceremony for the new Nemours Sussex Medical Office Building. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Travel concerns made it to the top of their list of considerations when finalizing their plans for a future location.

A lack of transportation or an abundance of complex needs complicating transportation arrangements makes getting to and from Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington burdensome.

To address concerns, Nemours recently added telehealth services, which Dr. Proujansky said only highlighted the need for a facility in the lower Delaware region.

“It can be challenging for a child who has to be involved in pediatric specialty care to have to travel to get that care,” he said. “Getting their care closer to home is really ideal for us.”

For parents like Valerie Biggs of Milton, the new facility will mean a new outlook on health care when it opens simply because it is closer to home.

“My husband and I have adopted eight children, most have special needs of some kind,” she began to explain.

The family moved to Milford from New Jersey to be closer to the Sussex Consortium in the Cape Henlopen School District which offers a variety of services for children with special needs.

“We thought the Sussex Consortium was the big draw,” Ms. Biggs said.

The new Nemours and Bayhealth Medical Office will offer another sense of security and community to the family and yet another reason they stay in the area.

“They [Nemours] have shared our joys and pains over the years. They celebrated with us when we adopted five more children. They calmed our fears. They [calmed] our cries,” she said, citing late night calls from the cardiologists and caring text messages from their pediatrician.

Continuing, she said, “It is overwhelming to be blessed to find this group of people. It’s such an amazing group of caring people to care for our children. We’ve traveled about 150 miles round trip too many times to count over the years. We are so excited that there will now be access in Sussex County.”

The family’s trip to their specialty will take just 20 miles now instead. When shuffling children around all day, the time saved becomes an even bigger draw for the area.

“There are so little resources here in Sussex County for specialists this is for sure a welcomed addition,” she said.

Ms. Biggs’ testimony was followed by a quick countdown as construction workers prepared to hoist the final beam onto the structure on Wellness Way.

“Today marks the completion of the steel portion of this project,” Alice Bavis Rausch told the crowd. “And a recognition and thank you to the construction workers for their. . . safe work. It helps you to appreciate the hard work it took to place every one of those beams.”

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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