Damp, chilly weather couldn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the group that gathered Thursday in Beebe Healthcare’s new Specialty Surgical Hospital.
Health care leaders, board members and caregivers were on hand to cut the ribbon on the $124 million, four-story hospital, located on the Rehoboth campus just off routes 1 and 24. The hospital will care for its first patient on Monday, May 16.
Speakers repeatedly emphasized Beebe’s focus on the community.
“We have put our line in the sand. We have raised our hand, and we’ve said we’re going to continue to focus on the special needs of Sussex County,” said Dr. David Tam, president and CEO of Beebe Healthcare. “That’s an important thing to say over and over and over again.”
The affirmation comes after the merger of Seaford-based Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and Salisbury, Maryland-based Peninsula Regional Health System to form TidalHealth.
To the north, ChristianaCare plans to acquire Crozer Health in Pennsylvania, and Union Hospital in Cecil County, Maryland became part of ChristianaCare in 2020.
Meanwhile, Sussex County’s needs are indeed unique. The resort area is experiencing rapid growth that has outpaced medical services. Residents wait months before getting an appointment with a new health care provider.
Many newcomers are retirees, and with age comes an increased risk of developing chronic disease. According to Beebe, the population will more than double national averages by 2027, with surgical volumes expected to grow more than 60 percent by 2025.
Beebe broke ground on the specialty surgical hospital in 2019 as part of an expansion plan announced in 2017. Construction costs required an investment of more than $100 million.
“I am so grateful to all of our donors and supporters who helped make this dream a reality,” said Tom Protack, president of the Beebe Medical Foundation.
“We like to say it’s our community’s specialty surgical hospital because that’s what makes us a strong as a community health care system — those who believe in us, give,” he continued. “Today is a testament that Beebe Healthcare is strong, and that Sussex County supports Beebe Healthcare.”
The new hospital accommodates patients with scheduled minimally invasive and robotically assisted surgeries, including bariatric, breast and orthopedic procedures. In addition, patients won’t compete for a bed with acute sick people, and there is no emergency care in the new facility.
The clinical staff contributed to the design, which includes four operating rooms, 18 bays for pre- and post-operative care and 24 private, short-stay inpatient rooms.
The structure also houses imaging, laboratory and pharmacy services and the new site for the Rehoboth Walk-In Care Center.
The March 12 event also included the unveiling of the DAISY statue on the site, a large-scale version of sculptures given to exemplary nurses.
Based in California, the nonprofit DAISY Foundation was established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died from complications of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, an autoimmune disease. The Barnes family started the foundation to honor nurses who make a difference in patients’ lives.
Tam, a Navy veteran, likened the festivities to commissioning a ship.
“There’s a point where you give the ship over to the crew,” he explained. “It’s an exciting opportunity to really relish the moment of transition because it completes one phase and starts a new phase.”
By putting the Beebe Specialty Surgical Hospital in caregiver and staff hands, Beebe Healthcare is demonstrating that “it is really the people who make this happen,” he said.
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