Healthcare programs in Sussex continue to expand

The new outpatient center at Bayhealth Sussex Campus is set to open in late 2020. Delaware State News/Jennifer Antonik

It’s out with the old and in with a modern sense of continuity of care in Milford as a new decade offers fresh healthcare options for residents.

Bayhealth jumpstarted a chain of events last year as the healthcare organization closed its former Milford Memorial Hospital after years of planning and opened its brand new Bayhealth Hospital, Sussex Campus just minutes down the road.

The closure of the former hospital did not leave that building empty, however, as Nationwide Healthcare Services prepared to purchase the property and begin plans to create an assisted living facility in Milford. That agency will be joined over the next year by tenants such as Kidz, Inc. and healthcare providers seeking to provide a continuum of care Nationwide Healthcare Services CEO Meyer Gelley envisions.

Meanwhile, Bayhealth is continuing its construction at the Sussex Campus, preparing for another influx of healthcare providers to the area south of town.

The long-awaited hospital brought in hundreds of new jobs as promised by Bayhealth CEO Terry Murphy and now offers the community more modern healthcare equipment than was previously available at Milford Memorial. The new six-floor facility offers private rooms for patients, a new wayfinding system to make traveling around the hospital easier and a helipad on the roof of the building with easy and quick access to trauma bays with all the bells and whistles needed for quick treatment in the emergency rooms.

“The health campus project has exceeded all of our expectations,” Bayhealth CEO Terry Murphy said. “What our patients are saying is that they’re loving it.”

Admissions to the hospital has grown “in the double digits,” he added, solidifying the idea that accessing the new hospital just off of Route 1 is much easier than when the facility was in the heart of town.

“I think people find it’s very, very easily accessible. Accessibility is very important,” Mr. Murphy said.

Growth was expected with the new facility, but it happened faster than the health care organization anticipated. To address these concerns, Bayhealth recently requested approval to add 24 acute care beds and five women’s services beds.

“We just didn’t anticipate it happening this quickly — it was planned, but we are actually planning to do that sooner rather than later. We look to have a very active 2020 to continue to meet the needs of a growing Sussex county and population.”

Like Mr. Gelley of Nationwide Healthcare Services who knew the former Milford hospital facility would be too large for his organization alone, Mr. Murphy and his team knew the Sussex Campus could contain more than just Bayhealth’s entities.

While Bayhealth continues to build a three-floor outpatient center adjacent to the new hospital into 2020, the company is also preparing to team with Nemours who will move their local primary physicians into the first floor of the new building and add some specialties families previously had to travel to Wilmington to find.

Colleen Davis, director of integrative medicine and special projects at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, said the partnership was a match knowing the healthcare agency needed to find a way to expand in southern Delaware.

“When we were doing our data collection, [we found that] 11 percent of associates live in Kent or Sussex. That’s a significant amount,” she said, adding that about 10,000 existing Nemours patients also live in Kent or Sussex counties.

Significant input from current Nemours families, community leaders, physicians and other stakeholders helped the organization add to the healthcare options available in Milford and the surrounding areas, she explained.

Nemours is more commonly known for its pediatric offerings and the A.I. DuPont Hospital in Wilmington. But it also offers hearing, dental, ophthalmology and other services to low-income seniors throughout the state, a service it will bring to the new building from its current location on U.S. 113 in Milford along with its local pediatric office.

The pediatric portion in the new building will include medical imaging and other specialties such as physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, allergy help and behavior health professionals. The list of services to be offered in Milford through Nemours continues to include audiology, orthopedics, ENTs, weight management, radiology, pulmonology, urology, urgent care and more. Some telehealth options will be set up for families needing specialties only available in Wilmington.

Nemours also is committed to having a conference room which could be split in half to hold two groups at once, offering community space for local groups and a café called Kaisy’s Delights which already has two locations in coastal Sussex.

“The biggest thing I think I’m really happy and proud about is that we are able to get all these services in one spot,” Ms. Davis said.

Together, Nemours and Bayhealth will slowly start to open the new outpatient center to the public as the occupants prepare to offer their services. Kaisy’s Delights will open first, offering a soft opening for construction workers and others from the Bayhealth Sussex Campus.

Nemours professionals are still in the build-out phase of their project which began in September 2019. They hope to be finished by September 2020. Once they clean their new space and move over furniture and equipment, Ms. Davis said they hope to see patients in the primary care section of the building around Nov. 9.

Therapies offered by Nemours should open up about a week after the primary care makes their big move, followed by senior care.

“The plan is to have everybody up and running by mid-November 2020,” she said. Nemours’ urgent care offerings will not open until 2021.

A community open house is planned for fall 2020 so local residents and professionals can visit with Nemours in the new outpatient center.
Bayhealth is also working to add a new ambulatory outpatient center on an 18-acre site on Hudson Road near Milton that will include physician offices and a new emergency room department for the area.

“Our presence in Sussex County, the American Hospital Job Association says that for every job in the hospital, two more jobs [are created] in the community. I think that’s generally good for Sussex County and we couldn’t be more pleased. That work will continue for both the Sussex campus and our Route 9 project, as well as the Nemours building,” Mr. Murphy said.

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com