Industries

New hospital to offer more than patient care

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The opening of a new Rockingham Memorial Hospital (RMH) is a milestone that will affect the region’s economy as well as its health care, local officials say.

The $300 million, 630,000-square-foot facility in Harrisonburg, which began operating June 22, will boost economic development efforts dramatically, says Rockingham County Administrator Joseph Paxton.
“Good health care is one of the key components that can set you apart from others when you’re trying to attract new businesses and top employees, along with good education, good quality of life and affordability of housing,” he says. “But this hospital will also add an additional component to our growing biotech industry.”

In fact, the 238-bed hospital already is exploring partnerships with bioscience companies and educational institutions.

For example, Jim Krauss, RMH’s president and CEO, has had preliminary discussions with SRI International about designing a multi-skilled curriculum for laboratory technicians at the local community colleges, vocational technology schools and James Madison University. SRI’s Center for Advanced Drug Research is based outside Harrisonburg.

RMH also has an affiliation agreement with Vanderbilt University to perform oncology and cardiology clinical trials. The hospital is negotiating a similar arrangement with the University of Virginia. RMH is also looking for ways to conduct research with JMU. The university is buying the old RMH hospital building, which sits on 15 acres in Harrisonburg.

RMH was founded in 1912 as a 20-bed hospital. The new facility’s features include advanced cardiology and oncology equipment and services, a much larger emergency department and sophisticated health information technology and wireless communication systems. In addition, all of the patient rooms are private and contain in-room computers and medication storage.

As the hospital continues to grow at its new 254-acre campus, Krauss expects its advanced design and technology to attract top-notch health-care professionals. “It’s a pretty snazzy place,” he says. “It’s not often that a community builds a new hospital, but when it does, it creates a ‘halo’ effect in that it will attract new doctors, new nurses, other clinicians who are interested in working in a state-of-the-art hospital. And that will serve to draw more patients and more businesses. It’s all positive.”


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