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Bayhealth cuts ribbon on new Harrington facility

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Bayhealth officials cut the ribbon on Bayhealth Primary Care - Harrington, its latest facility on Route 13. | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

Bayhealth officials cut the ribbon on Bayhealth Primary Care Harrington, its latest facility on Route 13. | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

HARRINGTON — In the early years when Dr. Vincent Lobo first started practicing medicine in Harrington, he was one of three doctors serving the community. But once they moved on, it left him with a long line of patients taking up a small amount of chairs and lining the staircase of a house.

This week, in a sign of the times, Bayheath cut the ribbon on its latest facility: a 10,000-square-foot building for primary care and outpatient services. The facility on Dupont Highway represents a $3.75 million investment and has 11 exam rooms and one patient room.

“To go from a house, to another building to this — this is gorgeous, state-of-the-art building,” Lobo told reporters on Wednesday morning, standing in front of the new Bayhealth facility. “I’ve been with Bayhealth for years, and I can tell you, they are dedicated to health care. Believe me, they try to handle everything they can.”

Bayhealth Primary Care Harrington will move its primary care services to the new facility from its longstanding Shaw Avenue location. It will also offer X-ray imaging and lab services. There is the possibility of rotating specialty services like cardiology through the site as well.

Bayhealth Primary Care Harrington will have two primary care physicians and one nurse practitioner on staff, and up to nine additional staff members on site, according to hospital representatives.

Bayhealth Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Siegelman said that not only does the new facility serve as a tribute to Lobo, who retired after serving his community for 67 years, but as a key piece in the health care system’s strategic growth plan.

“Dr. Lobo built the practice over the years, and the patient pool is huge. It has been from the beginning, and it’s been growing ever since,” Siegelman said. “While we didn’t anticipate what would happen with the pandemic, I think it does emphasize the need for health care services in our community where we can deal with the regular needs as well.”

Bayhealth has been on a steady growth trajectory since 2019, with the Sussex Campus hospital out on Route 1 officially heralding a change of pace. Since then, Bayhealth has started work on a hybrid emergency and walk-in center on Route 9 between Lewes and Harbeson, and inked a deal with Post-Acute Medical center and Nemours Children’s Health for its Sussex Campus.

“[The growth] with Harrington and Sussex has been pretty dramatic,” Siegelman told the Delaware Business Times. “The facility on Route 9 will be very nice, but it’s a drive from here. It makes sense to have another facility close to where people live in Harrington. Hopefully, we’ll have one or two more facilities in Sussex that are modest in size and close together.”

Lobo, who has been practicing medicine in southern Delaware for more than 50 years, noted he had patients coming from as far away as Greenwood in some cases. Bayhealth, like many other health care systems across the nation, are working to address workforce issues, such as finding nurses. But for years, Kent and Sussex counties have grappled with the issue of attracting physicians and keeping them here.

Siegelman said that Bayhealth is “working to add different positions,” and primary care is the main focus. Bayheath recently hired a doctor six months ago for the Harrington facility, and is in the process of interviewing another candidate to join the staff in the next year. The residency programs Bayhealth recently launched may also help boost the ranks.

“We have 21 primary care residences that will graduate between July 2022 and 2024, and residency is a variable,” he said. “For the most part, about 25% or 30% residents stay in the community where they were.”

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