Regions Hampton Roads

Sentara Healthcare seeks state approval for new hospital in Suffolk

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Sentara Healthcare has asked for state approval on its plans for a 24-bed hospital on its Sentara BelleHarbour campus in Suffolk.


The Norfolk-based health system has filed a letter of intent with the Virginia Department of Health for a Certificate of Public Need (COPN) for the facility, which would include the 24 inpatient beds, two operating rooms and a CT scanner.


The COPN program requires owners of certain medical care facility projects to secure approval from the state health commissioner before initiating projects such as general acute care services.  The program seeks to contain health-care costs while ensuring financial viability and access to health care.


The Sentara BelleHarbour campus has been home to a free-standing emergency department and medical office building since 2008.


In May 2017, Sentara broke ground on a second medical building, initially approved by the state to house an ambulatory surgery center.


This four-story, 92,000-square-foot building now would house the hospital beds, operating rooms and a CT scanner to serve inpatients.


The long-term campus plan allows room for a parking deck and additional medical buildings as the community grows in the years ahead.


“This community is growing quickly and we want to put services in place so our patients can receive the care they need close to home,” Dr. Steve Julian, president of Sentara Obici Hospital, said in a statement. Sentara Obici oversees the Sentara BelleHarbour campus.


Sentara said a growing percentage of patients seen in the Sentara BelleHarbour emergency room are transferred to hospitals for further care. The new hospital will allow many of these patients to remain close to home in North Suffolk, the health system said.


“It’s safer for them to remain on the campus as an inpatient or observation patient than to go on the road or fly to a hospital,” Julian said. “We designed the second medical building to be hospital ready, and we’re seeing the need right now to provide these services.”


Plans for the hospital have been in the works for four years.


COPN approval is a multi-phase process that includes application reviews and recommendations by staff at the Virginia Department of Health, public hearings and, eventually, a decision by the commissioner of health. Sentara hopes to gain approval by the end of the year.

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