By Terry Rogers
In an effort to obtain public input and answer questions regarding the new health campus scheduled to break ground in early 2016, Bayhealth held their second Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, October 22, at the Milford Senior Center. Alice Bavis Rausch, Southern Region Program Manager for Bayhealth, kicked off the meeting which was attended by about 25 to 30 citizens and business leaders.
“This is exciting for this community,” Ms. Rausch said. “The new health campus will not only be beneficial to the Milford community, but will also benefit the entire region. The Town Hall meetings are planned to keep the public informed of our progress and to gain input into what the citizens would like to see in the new hospital.”
Terry Murphy, CEO and President of Bayhealth, said that the new campus represented a reinvestment in the Milford community and that the company had evaluated many different things before choosing the Milford location to build the new hospital. The new campus will be located at the corner of Wilkins Road (County Road 206) and Cedar Creek Road (State Route 30) in the southeast section of Milford.
“We are looking not at five or ten years down the road, but 50 to 100 years into the future,” Mr. Murphy said. “The new site has 165 acres and the initial building phase of the new hospital will only use about 50 of those acres. This allows us considerable room to expand in the future.” The new campus will include space for ambulatory care and physician’s offices, a full range of diagnostic testing facilities and a state-of-the-art hospital.
One of the most exciting announcements related to the new health campus is a partnership between Bayhealth and Alfred I. DuPont/Nemours. Bayhealth plans to lease part of the land at the new location to A.I. DuPont for a 20,000 to 30,000 square foot pediatric and senior care center.
“Right now, if you have children who need to see a pediatric specialist, you must take them to Wilmington for treatment,” Mr. Murphy said. “A.I. DuPont is not only a well-known pediatric hospital in Delaware, but it is world-renowned for their patient care and research into pediatric illnesses. We felt it was time to bring some of that expertise to lower Delaware and are very excited to have them join us at the new campus. When the new Bayhealth campus is completed, parents will be able to receive top-notch care for their children without driving two hours to get that care.”
Bayhealth has hired an adaptive use firm to determine what will happen to the current Bayhealth location on Clarke Avenue. The current hospital sits on 22 acres and there have been many suggestions made by the public regarding what they would like see happen to the facility. Mr. Murphy said that the decision regarding that facility will probably not be made until the new campus is almost completed as they will need to continue using the Clarke Avenue facility right up until the day the new hospital is completed.
“No suggestion is off the table regarding that facility,” Mr. Murphy said. “If there is a suggestion regarding what you would like to see happen to the old hospital, we ask you to visit ImagineDE.com and put your suggestion there. We would also like for you to provide us with input as to what you would like to see in the new hospital.”
The new campus will have approximately 140 beds and all rooms will be private, not semi-private like the current hospital. In addition, the emergency room at the new facility will have private patient rooms rather than curtains surrounding beds in an open setting. Murphy said that some of these changes were to meet privacy standards that exist in the medical field today, but are also options that patients have requested over the years.
The Acute Rehabilitation Center at the current campus will be relocated to the new location. As the only center of its type in Kent and Sussex County, Bayhealth wants to continue that service to the area, Mr. Murphy explained. Bayhealth is still working to determine whether the Lifestyle Fitness Center would transfer completely to the new location, but that the hospital did plan to offer a wide range of fitness opportunities at the new location.
“The new campus will be beautifully landscaped,” Mr. Murphy said. “We are looking into adding trails and outdoor fitness opportunities for those in the community as well as an indoor facility. We are also considering adding childcare for our employees which is something we do not offer at the present time.”
When asked if there would be walk-over bridges added so that people who live in neighboring subdivisions such as Hearthstone Manor, Mattlind Estates and Orchard Hill could cross the road safely, Mr. Murphy said that the hospital has not looked into that but would consider discussing the possibility with DelDOT.
Mr. Murphy explained that the new campus, like the current campus, would not be a teaching hospital. He said that Bayhealth has an affiliation with the University of Pennsylvania to provide students with internships and residencies, but that they were not considered a teaching hospital.
Mr. Murphy explained that Bayhealth has almost completed the land planning portion of the new campus and that the next step was a preliminary design for the building. He said that land planning was crucial as they needed to address issues such as sunlight, drainage and other factors that could have an impact not only on patient comfort, but also on the surrounding neighborhoods. Mr. Murphy said that traffic studies were being completed to determine the best way to flow traffic around the hospital as well. Bayhealth is also working with DNREC as a portion of the land was considered wetlands, requiring Bayhealth to protect those areas as much as possible.
Groundbreaking for the new hospital was originally planned for January 2016, but Mr. Murphy said they may wait until spring to avoid issues with inclement weather. The hospital is scheduled to open in 2019.