Millsboro annexation sought for Peninsula Regional ambulatory medical campus

Peninsula Regional’s Delmarva Health Pavilion off U.S. 113 in Millsboro. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

MILLSBORO — An ambulatory medical campus in Peninsula Regional Health System Inc.’s growing healthcare network is being proposed on rural property bordering Millsboro’s northern town limits.

Annexation is an initial step.

Town of Millsboro officials and council are working diligently to consider a request from Kenneth Adams on behalf of a family entity to annex an approximate 39.2-acre piece of land along U.S. 113 north of the current town limits, according to Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson.

Mr. Adams, whose Joseph Family of Companies includes Melvin Joseph Construction Inc., M.L. Joseph Sand & Gravel Company Inc., and Stockley Materials, said the proposal has gone through the state of Delaware’s Preliminary Land Use Service process.

The medical campus project is coined Patriot’s Bluff Commercial.

Peninsula Regional Health System was looking to do this type of project in the Millsboro area, and through a real estate connection, their property was identified, Mr. Adams said.

“And the word that everybody has been saying all along is, ‘That property checks all the boxes,’” said Mr. Adams. “We’re contiguous to the town of Millsboro. We are not currently in, but we touch the town of Millsboro. We’re close to existing infrastructure. We’re right on the highway. The property is sized appropriately for what they are trying to do. It looks like it’s the ideal place for them to do what they want to do.”

The town of Millsboro has identified the property in the annexation area on the Town Comprehensive Plan.

“According to the property owner, the plan is for Peninsula Regional Health System to construct an ambulatory campus on the land in question (Patriot’s Bluff Commercial),” said Mr. Hudson. “Obviously, it is certainly exciting news for Millsboro.”

Requested zoning through annexation is Highway Commercial. Current zoning with Sussex County is AR-1 (Agricultural/Residential).

The Patriot’s Bluff Commercial project includes up to approximately 200,000 commercial square footage.

The concept, Mr. Adams says, is a medical campus theme.

“With the size of the property there is room for other commercial presence,” said Mr. Adams. “The concept here is for it to be a medical campus. So, on the residual land, after they have kind of created the footprint for their campus, in my mind it would be medical related commercial.”

At Millsboro’s Feb. 3 town council meeting, a town committee unanimously recommended that the town take the next step. Council voted 6-0 to accept the committee’s recommendation that the town schedule a public hearing at the March 2 council meeting.

Additionally, Mr. Hudson shared a prepared statement from Peninsula Regional Health System Inc. sent to the town of Millsboro. The statement reads in part:

“Peninsula Regional Health System, which opened a family medicine practice in the Millsboro Health Pavilion in 2014, is seeking to expand in eastern Sussex County to better support a rapidly growing population. While Millsboro and the surrounding population have been a focus of the system for several years, PRHS seeks to establish an ambulatory campus that will provide an enhanced variety of healthcare services for the community.”

“While those have not been finalized, the new health complex will create jobs and offer services similar to what are available at our other ambulatory campuses,” PRHS’s statement continued. “Acute care needs will continue to be supported by the PRHS’s hospitals in Seaford (Nanticoke Memorial) and Salisbury (Peninsula Regional).”

Noting annexation is the immediate focus, Mr. Adams said it is far too early and premature to venture a ballpark guess on when construction could proceed, and the completed campus might open.

“I would just say we are going to be working diligently to get shovels in the ground as soon as the permit process allows,” Mr. Adams said. “Within a year, hopefully we’ll be seeing dirt fly, or less than a year — maybe.”

PRHS’s Delmarva Health Pavilion on Commerce Drive off U.S. 113 features the Peninsula Regional FamilyLab and Peninsula Regional Family Medicine. PRHS also has FamilyLab and Family Practice locations in Laurel.

PRHS has also opened an ambulatory medical campus in Ocean Pines, Maryland.

Recently, Peninsula Region Health System’s presence in Delaware expanded with state and federal regulatory approval of the affiliation with Seaford-based Nanticoke Health Services. On Jan. 2, it was officially announced that Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Nanticoke Physician Network and all other Nanticoke healthcare services have joined Peninsula Regional Health System.