Local focus

Chesapeake General is region’s last independent hospital

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Print this page by Elizabeth Cooper

By the mid-1960s, residents of the fledgling city of Chesapeake were weary of traveling through tunnels and across bridges into neighboring cities to see a doctor. What the young city needed was its own hospital. It would take another decade of city leaders jockeying for legislative support before Chesapeake’s dream was realized in January 1976 when Chesapeake General Hospital opened.

Now the cornerstone of Chesapeake Regional Medical Center’s services, the facility is Hampton Roads’ last independent hospital and intends to stay that way. “We have been in an age where people thought only the huge conglomerates would survive,” says Wynn Dixon, Chesapeake Regional’s CEO. “Under health-care reform, some are beginning to say that we might be the survivors.”

The key to Chesapeake Regional’s success lies in the recognition of its role as a community hospital.  “We try to do what’s right for the community,” Dixon says. “As long as we do that, we will not only survive, we will thrive.”

The hospital focuses on cardiology, oncology, obstetrics, orthopedics, neurological sciences and emergency services. “We realize who we are,” Dixon says. “We’re not trying to be all things to all people and grow into something that doesn’t make sense.”
Last year, the 310-bed facility completed a $6.5 million expansion of its emergency room. The hospital also was the first in the area to have accredited chest pain and stroke centers. Plus, the equipment used to treat cancer is the same as that at Duke University.

Chesapeake Regional employs 2,500 people, including those in its physician groups, assisted-living facility and home-health care. It also is a 40 percent owner of the Outer Banks Hospital, a 19-bed facility in Nags Head, N.C.

In addition to being the region’s last independent hospital, Chesapeake Regional is one of only two hospitals in Virginia established as an authority hospital whereby the City Council appoints its governing board. “We have something special here that the conglomerates cannot compete with, and that’s community support,” Dixon says.

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