By Terry Rogers
After months of planning and discussion, Bayhealth broke ground on their new health campus just off of Elks Lodge Road in Southeast Milford on Tuesday, May 24. Local and state dignitaries were in attendance at the groundbreaking, including Governor Jack Markell.
“There are many benefits to this new health campus,” Governor Markell said. “There are job benefits health benefits, an attractiveness to new residents and economic growth benefits. This new campus is a demonstration of the new approach being taken in healthcare, one that encourages a focus on overall health. What happens here will be at the center of changes in healthcare and is a critical investment not only for Milford, but for all of Central Delaware.”
The groundbreaking ceremony began with remarks from several people who have been involved in bringing the new campus to life. Alice Bavis Rausch who serves as the Southern Region Strategy and Brand Program Manager at Bayhealth, officiated the program.
“Life begins in a hospital and, for some of us, life ends in a hospital,” said Ms. Rausch,. “Most of us spend the time in between avoiding hospitals, but that is not always possible. It is our goal at Bayhealth to make any visit or stay in the hospital as comfortable as possible. This healthcare campus is designed to do just that.” Ms. Rausch said that the new health campus had been the dream of many of those in attendance and that she was proud to be a part of the process.
Bayhealth President and CEO, Terry Murphy, FACHE, said that a project like the new health campus cannot happen overnight as it takes research, imagination, determination and knowhow as well as a willingness to change the status quo in order to create something new. Mr. Murphy said that Bayhealth viewed the new campus as an investment in the health of people throughout Sussex County.
“We are not just picking up and moving an existing hospital,” Mr. Murphy said. “We have reengineered and redesigned the campus in ways that help our staff, provide better care for our patients and offer better technology for our area.” I.G. Burton, III, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Bayhealth commented that the new location of the health campus was more convenient and would offer much more to the citizens of Milford and surrounding areas. Dr. Jose Guzman, President of the Medical Staff at Bayhealth Milford Memorial pointed out the historical significance of the groundbreaking.
“I want my patients to have access to the best possible care,” Dr. Guzman said. “With this new facility, I know they will receive that care. It is a testament to the dedication of those that have put this plan together because they enlisted the help of physicians, nurses and other medical professionals when creating the design. There are mock-up rooms and treatment areas so that we can walk around and get a feel for what it will be like when it is done. This hospital is designed with the needs of the medical staff as well as the needs of the patients in mind.”
The new campus will include a six-story hospital with an expanded emergency department, additional operating rooms, all private patient rooms and a cafeteria with outdoor seating. In addition, a 70,000-square foot outpatient center is planned to offer additional services. Nemours Children’s Health System is planning a separate structure on the campus in order to offer pediatric specialty services as well.
“Bayhealth has always been an outstanding partner with Nemours,” said Dr. Roy Proujansky, Chief Executive of Delaware Valley Operations and Executive Vice President of Nemours. “Many families have found it difficult to get pediatric specialty care for their children. I have personally spoken to parents who have driven an hour and a half for a ten minute follow-up appointment. Now, parents throughout Kent and Sussex County will be able to get advanced healthcare services for their children locally with our new location on the health campus in Southern Delaware.”
A capital campaign began last year to raise additional funds for the new health campus. Bill Strickland, chairman of the campaign said that the new health campus had received the support of many people who had never donated to the hospital previously as well as those who had been long-time donors. He reported that the campaign goal was $15 million and that over $9 million had already been raised. Mike Vincent, President of Sussex County Council, pointed out that a large percentage of the vendors used to complete the new hospital were Delaware companies and that more than 800 jobs would be added during the construction process. Mayor Bryan Shupe agreed with Mr. Strickland’s assessment.
“This new health campus will need new employees,” Mayor Shupe said. “Those employees will have children who will attend our schools. They will shop in our stores and eat in our restaurants. A new hospital will also attract other residents and businesses to our area as healthcare is an important factor when people choose an area to live. The economic impact of this health campus will be tremendous.” Mayor Shupe said that he, along with City Council, were working to be sure the current Clarke Avenue facility remains a viable part of Milford as well.
Governor Markell said that although he was unable to choose a favorite town out of the 57 in Delaware, he saw something unique in Milford.
“There is truly something about Milford,” Governor Markell said. “There is a sense of community, a sense of togetherness that makes this town different. This new health campus is really less about the leadership at Bayhealth and more about the community who support the need for outstanding healthcare in the area.”
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