On Tuesday, September 15, Bayhealth held their first Town Hall Meeting designed to receive input from the public and to update them on the progress of the new Bayhealth campus, scheduled to begin construction in early 2016. The new campus will be built at the intersection of Wilkins and Cedar Creek Road, replacing the facility currently located on Clarke Avenue.
“The new hospital will be a destination, not just a hospital,” Terry Murphy, President and Chief Executive. “We want people to remember the experience they have at the new campus, not just the building.” Mr. Murphy explained that Bayhealth began in 1997 when Milford Memorial Hospital and Kent General Hospital merged. He said that the organization was committed to the region and the building of the new campus demonstrates that commitment.
Mr. Murphy explained that Bayhealth originally planned to build the new hospital on the existing Clarke Avenue property, but found that the 22-acres that existed in that location would not provide the space they needed. They looked at several different properties before they decided on the 165-acre parcel they will break ground on early next year. Mr. Murphy said that the new campus represents a $250 million investment in the community.
“The New Campus Health Project, as we have named it, will not only bring a state-of-the-art hospital to the area, it will also create hundreds of jobs,” Mr. Murphy said. “The businesses working on this project are primarily Delaware businesses, so we are helping to improve the economy in many different ways.”
The new hospital will offer primary care and specialty physician offices, diagnostic services as well as a state-of-the art hospital and emergency department. Unlike the current campus where doctor’s offices are located in houses surrounding the campus, doctors and testing facilities will be part of the new campus, making it easier for patients to get the treatment they need all in one location.
All patient rooms in the hospital will now be private, Mr. Murphy said, as today’s healthcare should be provided much more privacy than in the past. In addition, the Emergency Department will have separate rooms with walls as opposed to curtains as the current campus offers.
“When they built the old hospital, they didn’t build it looking to the future,” Mr. Murphy said. “This means that it is sometimes difficult to maneuver. The elevators are no longer at the entrance, so it takes much longer to get to patient rooms. In addition, departments that must work together in patient care are not located near each other, making it difficult for staff as well. We are looking at that now so that we can stack services in a way that makes it much easier for staff, patients and families.” Mr. Murphy said that Cannon Design, a top ranked hospital design firm, would be the architects on the project while Whiting-Turner, a highly-rated healthcare contracting firm, would handle the construction.
Many questions have been asked about the future of the Clarke Avenue facility, Mr. Murphy said. He explained that they would be using an adaptive use firm to redevelop that facility so that it did not remain vacant.
“I want to be clear that these discussions will not begin until 2016,” Mr. Murphy said. “We will not be vacating that property until 2019 and there is a lot of discussion that has to go on before we can make any decisions on the Clarke Avenue campus. We are open to any and all suggestions for using that facility and will be conducting many public hearings to learn what ideas the public may have.”
Mr. Murphy said that they were currently conducting traffic studies to mitigate impact on the residents in the area. Currently the proposed front entrance will be just south of the traffic light at the Wilkins Road and Coastal Highway, Route 30 and Route 1, overpass. Two side entrances are currently planned for Wilkins Road.
According to Mr. Murphy, Bayhealth will not simply be picking up and moving the old hospital to a new location. It will be redesigned from the ground up using data collected throughout the planning process. They plan to create mock-up facility and room models that will be open so that the public and staff can offer suggestions for improvements or changes that may work better. Bayhealth plans to file a Certificate of Public Review with the state and is asking the community to provide letters of support that will be filed with the review.
“This hospital will probably be six stories,” Mr. Murphy said when asked how large the hospital would be. “We are planning to build so that we can grow over time so that we don’t run into what we have with the Clarke Avenue property. The Emergency Room Department will have a different entrance. We determined that to be beneficial when we visited a new hospital in Florida where the main entrance and Emergency Room entrance were side-by-side. We immediately saw that to be a problem.”
Mr. Murphy explained that the hospital would be very attractive to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. He said that he expected many new doctors to locate in Milford to offer even more services than already exist. The majority of the funding for the new campus will come from reserves Bayhealth has built up by being fiscally responsible over the years. However, Mr. Murphy explained that they would be launching a $50 million capital campaign in order to gain support from the community.
Ideas for the hospital, questions or comments can be submitted to Bayhealth through their website, www.ImagineDE.com. Anyone interested in donating to the capital campaign may do so through that website as well. Additional Town Hall meetings are planned as progress on the hospital continues.