Officials at Winchester Medical Center (WMC) have an idea of how the population will change in the next 10 years in their corner of Virginia. They expect the
65 and older population in the Winchester area to rise by 58 percent. Meanwhile, the region’s overall population is projected to increase 22 percent.
To serve the health-care demands of this growing population, WMC is planning a $178 million expansion. “We don’t want to get into a situation where we have
to turn away patients,” says Al Pilong, president of WMC. “And to make sure that doesn’t happen, we have to have adequate facilities.”
WMC has applied to the commonwealth for a Certificate of Public Need (COPN). It’s a process that’s required to prove there’s enough demand in the community
for additional health-care services. If the plan is approved (a decision is expected by June), WMC executives hope to break ground next fall.
The multi-part project will be financed through reserve funds, donations and bonds. It will include construction of a six-level North Tower with an expanded
emergency department and a 20-bed observation unit; a 48-bed critical-care unit; a newborn intensive care unit and an expanded well-born nursery.
The hospital also will build a one-story heart and vascular center, renovate the existing building and set aside 139,000 square feet of shell space for
future expansion. In addition, construction will start next spring on a 560-space garage.
In addition to meeting fu-ture health-care demands, the project will provide new jobs, Pilong says. WMC will need to hire 300 additional nurses, physicians
and other health-care workers to staff new areas of the hospital. “In the short-run, though, there will also be a need for construction workers, architects,
engineers and laborers to build all of this, so that will provide an infusion of economic vitality in a time when we’re really hurting in our economy,”
Pilong says. “We see this as a really positive thing for our local and regional community from an economic stimulus standpoint.”
Still, given the state of the bond and credit markets, WMC executives will have the flexibility to delay the project up to three years, according to the
requirements of the COPN process.
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