Facilities will open in Norfolk, Virginia Beach and WilliamsburgApril 28, 2010 6:00 AM
by Elizabeth Cooper
Photo courtesy Sentara
Just a few years ago the future of Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center was in doubt. The Norfolk hospital had sustained significant financial losses, and officials were mulling over the possibility of reducing its size from 238 beds to 64 beds or even closing it. Today, things are looking brighter for the 154-year-old venerable institution.
In March, the Virginia deputy state health commissioner approved DePaul’s bid to replace its existing facility with a new $200 million, 124-bed hospital. The full-service facility will include an ICU, obstetrical unit, emergency department, advanced imaging center with MRI and CT, cardiac catheterization and radiation therapy services. The 300,000-square-foot project, smaller than the current facility, will be located on DePaul’s current site. Completion is expected in late 2014. DePaul also plans to construct a new medical office building on the campus.
After the hospital lost $12 million between the fall of 2007 and the summer of 2008, Bon Secours officials reinvigorated the medical staff. It recruited new physicians, including primary-care doctors, an obstetrics group, an interventional cardiology group, and it added 70 nurses. In response the number of surgical procedures increased by 200 to 5,500; emergency room visits jumped from 38,000 to 42,000.
The year following the $12 million loss, DePaul recorded a $900,000 surplus. City officials are pleased that DePaul will continue to operate a medical facility in Norfolk. The city had opposed reducing the hospital’s bed count to 64, saying it would place additional burdens on Sentara Norfolk General and Sentara Leigh hospitals. “It’s great news for the city that the hospital will be enlarged,” says Sarah Parker, assistant director for marketing in Norfolk’s Department of Economic Development.
Bon Secours also has joined forces with Sentara Healthcare to construct a $145 million, 120-bed hospital in Virginia Beach. Scheduled to open in 2011, Sentara Princess Anne Hospital will be part of a 72-acre medical campus of four medical office buildings, a full-service 24-hour emergency department, advanced imaging center, ambulatory surgery center, laboratory services and a pharmacy. The facility will bring a strong medical presence to the Princess Anne corridor, home to Tidewater Community College’s Virginia Beach campus and Old Dominion University’s Virginia Beach Higher Education Center.
Sentara also is expanding its presence in western Hampton Roads. In January, the health-care system opened a comprehensive facility in Isle of Wight County. Sentara St. Luke’s brings several medical services under one roof that previously had been dispersed throughout the county, and it offers new and expanded services. Meanwhile in Suffolk, Sentara Obici Hospital will open a new $22.4 million patient tower in June, increasing its size from 138 to 168 beds.
Sentara’s reach is extending beyond Hampton Roads. Last year, Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge became part of Sentara Healthcare, giving the company a presence in Northern Virginia. As part of the merger, Sentara plans to invest $92 million in a health-care foundation to help meet underserved health needs of Prince William County residents.
Other health-care systems also are going the merger route. In 2009, Riverside Health System on the Peninsula merged with Shore Health Services on the Eastern Shore. Shore Memorial Hospital is now known as Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital.
In another expansion, Riverside received state approval to build Doctors’ Hospital of Williamsburg after trying for eight years to move into the Williamsburg area. The $72.4 million Riverside facility, which will include two operating rooms, is expected to open in 2012. Riverside also plans to close 60 beds and an operating room at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News to reallocate resources where they are most needed in the Peninsula and Williamsburg areas.
Sentara opposed Riverside’s plans to build a two-story, 40-bed hospital in Williamsburg, contending that it would duplicate services already offered at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. Sentara plans a six-bed expansion at its Williamsburg hospital. The $11.2 million project should be completed early next year.
Another boost for the area in medical care is the role Tidewater Community College will play in educating information technology professionals in health care about electronic health records. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services selected the college to lead a consortium to educate 7,500 IT employees in a 12-state region over the next two years with the assistance of a $16 million grant.
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