Anticipation is building for Bayhealth Sussex Campus, neighboring Nemours component

MILFORD – It’s about a year and a half away but anticipation is already building for the scheduled opening of the Bayhealth Sussex Campus.

Architectural rendering of the main entrance of the Bayhealth Sussex Campus.

Currently under construction, the estimated $300 million project features a towering six-story hospital, an expanded emergency department, more operating room facilities and additional upgrades and amenities.

Plans also include a 70,000 square-foot outpatient center.

“This is the largest reinvestment in Sussex County’s history,” Bayhealth president/CEO Terry Murphy said in an update at the July 25 Sussex County Council meeting. “This will allow us to grow for generations to come. What’s important for Sussex Countians is this won’t be something we’ll need to revisit in 25 or 30 years. This will be a great development for many generations.”

A topping off ceremony was held in early July, marking placement of the final steel beam for the towering hospital complex. Groundbreaking was held in 2016.

“It’s going to be a great facility,” said Sussex County Council president Michael Vincent, who attended the groundbreaking and the recent topping ceremony. “Thank you very much for all you are doing in Sussex County, your reinvestment. We really appreciate that.”

In addition, the specious healthcare campus along SR 1 and Rt. 30 will feature a Nemours DuPont Pediatrics component in a separate three-story medical office building.

“The first floor will be all of Nemours; 35,000 square feet of Nemours providers: specialists, generalists and pediatric care. They also do senior vision and hearing as well,” said Mr. Murphy. “This brings their specialists to the Sussex County population so children, grandchildren that currently have to travel up to Rockland (Road) Avenue will be able to see their specialists here. It will not be a pediatric hospital but will be offices for pediatric specialists, which is a big part of what they do.”

Terry Murphy, Bayhealth president/CEO, updates Sussex County Council on Bayhealth’s $300 million project in Milford.

Barring any major setbacks, the new Bayhealth facility will begin serving patients with the arrival of 2019.

“Over a year ago we did the groundbreaking. One year later we were topping off with the final beam on the project.  We expect to be completed with the project in October of next year and moving into the facility, the building, if all goes well in January of 2019,” said Mr. Murphy. “If you were to ask why three months to go from completing the building to moving in? We take care of patients. It’s a very important role we play in the community so we have to make sure everything is ready to go and appropriately tested.”

Mr. Murphy noted Bayhealth is only provider of acute rehab beds in the Sussex County at this time. “We have 43 specifically for patients that require acute rehabilitation,” he said.

Patient rooms are being designed to be patient-centered, Mr. Murphy added.

Plans call for an expanded emergency department, far greater than what currently exists at Bayhealth Milford Memorial Hospital on Clarke Avenue in the city.

“If you’ve been into the emergency department (at Milford Memorial) it is not sized appropriately for the growth in the population in the area,” Mr. Murphy said. “So, in addition to the normal trauma base and treatment base we will have specific areas for patients with behavioral health problems.  Of course, there is a new behavioral health hospital that is coming to Sussex County. We will coordinate and work with SUN Behavioral Health, but for patients that present to us with mental illness we will have specific spaces to be able to handle them in a specific way.”

Bayhealth Milford Memorial Hospital will be converted for use as a wellness community with a skilled nursing care through a purchase agreement with Nationwide Healthcare Services.

“There wasn’t a line of 15 organizations coming up to look at 22 acres and 250,000 square-foot facility. We are extremely pleased to find Nationwide,” said Mr. Murphy. “There is a need for skilled nursing beds in this part of the state. So, they fulfill a need. They work as part of the system. They put in application for 100 skilled nursing beds. They will convert once we leave in January (2019) and provide services on that site. They will be purchasing the entire 22-acre site where Milford hospital currently sits.”

Mr. Murphy shared the project’s economic impact. “There is $225 million in design and construction,” he said. Another $75 million is projected for furniture, equipment and equipment.

Approximately 1,815 jobs will be created as part of the project. Bayhealth remains committed to contracting with Delaware companies for at least 50 percent of the labor force and 50 percent of materials required for the project. “We track that every month and with every contract,” Mr. Murphy said.

“We are very pleased with the reinvestment into Sussex county. Again, we are planning for generations to come and we appreciate your support,” said Mr. Murphy.

County councilman Rob Arlett inquired about recruiting challenges Bayhealth may face. “Are you finding a challenge here locally or are you finding a challenge from abroad, others from outside the area, and what are doing to attract people here,” Mr. Arlett said.

“I would think that broadly it is just a challenge of supply and demand. I think being Magnet designated for our professional nurses; we are one of three: A.I. Dupont, Christiana Care and Baythealth. For the professional nursing component people are very attracted to that. That helps us tremendously,” said Mr. Murphy. “I think for physician providers, working in great space, having a good electronic health record, and having a good system is very helpful. Although it’s a challenge, I don’t think its insurmountable. It’s a beautiful area. It’s a beautiful place to live so I think we’ve actually done quite well for what traditionally you heard more horror stories.”

“Are you working with any of our local schools to try to find some more local work force?” Mr. Arlett asked.

‘We’re doing a lot of work with not only Del Tech, the University of Delaware, Wesley, Delaware State, we’re actually trying to look way ahead,” Mr. Murphy said. “And maybe there are some more things that we can do maybe in the area of graduate medical education. So, we do have our eyes set on the future and having continued development. We have a tremendous number of programs for our Allied Health practitioners, and Del Tech has just been phenomenal.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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