[caption id="attachment_227600" align="alignnone" width="2378"] Beebe Healthcare is planning a hybrid emergency department, which will include pediatric emergency facilities off U.S. Route 113. This is an early site plan Beebe Healthcare filed with the Delaware Health Resources Board. | PHOTO COURTESY OF HEALTH RESOURCES BOARD.[/caption]
MILLSBORO — Beebe Healthcare is continuing its growth in Sussex County with plans to build a $32 million hybrid emergency facility, complete with walk-in care and an pediatric emergency department just north of Millsboro.The hybrid facility will be in Beebe’s planned ambulatory care facility on the corner of the U.S. Route 113 and Hardscrabble Road. Five primary care physicians and several other pediatric specialty providers would serve out of the space, according to documents filed with the Delaware Health Resources Board that the Delaware Business Times reviewed with a Freedom of Information Act request.In addition, Beebe plans on leasing space to Nemours Children’s Health System for a rotation of providers. A helicopter pad will also be constructed to help transport serious cases to Beebe’s main campus in Lewes or to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia or Nemours Children’s Hospital in Wilmington, as needed.Beebe plans to staff its facility with pediatric emergency medicine-trained physicians, which would make it the only location in Sussex County to do so, according to Beebe officials.“There are many situations where treatment in an emergency room allows parents to take a breath and know it will be OK, there is an emergency physician there,” Beebe Healthcare President and CEO David Tam told the Health Resources Board on Oct. 27. “Something that could be an ambulance or a drive up to Nemours could go to Beebe. Because Beebe will have pediatric physicians and hospitalists who are trained to take care of your child.”Beebe has planned to build a 72,000-square-foot ambulatory care building on 26 acres, with 360 parking spaces roughly 2.5 miles north of Millsboro. The hybrid ER facility will be 24,000 square feet on that property, sharing space with walk-in clinical space, and it will also have 10 emergency exam rooms, 10 walk-in rooms as well as advanced diagnostic imaging. Two of the emergency rooms will be dedicated to pediatric cases.Beebe Healthcare has focused on growing its footprint in Sussex County in the last five years, opening the South Coastal Health Campus in Millville and a Specialty Surgical Hospital in Rehoboth Beach while breaking ground on a new medical office in Milton. Beebe’s main campus receives 40,000 visits per year, and its south Coastal Emergency Department has received 17,000 visits in the last year.But this new project will be Beebe’s western-most emergency department, targeting the Long Neck area and west and south of Seaford. Millsboro is at least a 23-minute drive from a future Bayhealth facility in Harbeson and more than a half hour from Beebe’s main campus in Lewes. This new facility will be only 7 minutes.“You never know what will come to the door. The first thing you have to do to make sure there’s a door for people to come through, and once you’re there, the people are trained to either treat and release or treat and stabilize and then move to the next level of care,” Tam said.“That is the critical element for us: ensuring that there is an emergency room that is accessible 24/7 to the people of that community,” he added.In total, eight municipalities would be within 25 minutes from the proposed Beebe hybrid facility, including Dagsboro and Georgetown – an area with an estimated population of 67,000 full-time residents.Sussex County’s population is growing in leaps and bounds, as the U.S. Census estimated it grew 4.3% between 2020 and 2021. Millsboro alone is expected to grow 11% between 2020 and 2030, according to projections from the Delaware Population Consortium.In the Millsboro area, Beebe officials estimate that children make up 21% of the population and 28.6% are 65 and older. That need is expected to grow by 14.3% and 18.8%, respectively, in the next five years.Complicating access to care can be traffic triggered by the new growth in the Millsboro area, but also from tourists traveling down Route 113 for the beach or other areas. Traffic from Millsboro to existing facilities could take as long as 40 minutes in peak times.Both Bayhealth and Beebe sought to build an emergency department in Sussex County in 2019, with Bayhealth filing a proposal with the Delaware Health Resources Board for Milton and Beebe looking to build in Georgetown. But a review committee recommended denying both proposals in part due to the cost consumers would face from emergency services.Instead, both health care systems have opted for hybrid models, with the idea to divert patients that would typically go to the emergency department and cost time, more money and more resources. Bayhealth’s hybrid emergency room on Route 9 is scheduled to open in 2023.When a patient arrives at the future hybrid facility, they will be evaluated to determine whether they require walk-in or emergency services. If a patient needs a walk-in, they will only be charged the walk-in rate. Beebe officials anticipate that at least 3,000 cases will be converted from the emergency care to walk-in visits which will save roughly $1.7 million, according to its application.