Riverside President Richard J. Pearce announced that the estimated cost for the new hospital is $82 million, and that it could be opened as soon as early 2009 if approvals proceed in a timely manner.
An application for a Certificate of Public Need (COPN) was submitted July 1 to the Virginia Department of Health to transfer 69 beds currently licensed for Riverside Regional Medical Center to the proposed new Williamsburg hospital, according to Pearce.
Pearce noted that the Riverside application does not request approval of any new beds, but simply redistributes beds already licensed for the region in order to better serve the Williamsburg area.
Doctors Hospital of Williamsburg, as the new facility will be called, is designed to meet future medical and health care needs for the fast growing Williamsburg area. It will also bring two new services not currently available locally by including 20 beds for short-stay physical rehabilitation and 18 beds to provide long-term acute care services.
The new hospital also will have 25 beds for inpatient medical-surgical care, a six-bed intensive care unit, and an emergency department open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The new rehabilitation and long-term acute care facilities are particularly significant given the expected increase in the area’s population of those who are age 65 and older. (The Virginia Employment Commission projects that this segment of the population will increase 68.8% between the years 2000 and 2015.)
The management structure of the new hospital will reflect Riverside’s philosophy of leaving much of the decision-making responsibilities to local boards and physicians, Pearce said.
“We believe strongly that both physicians and local citizens should have the maximum involvement to make sure this hospital really meets the needs of the local community,” he said.
A 13-member Advisory Board is chaired by Mark Ellis, M.D., of Williamsburg, and includes seven other local physicians and five local residents. It is expected that this Advisory Board will form the core of the Doctors Hospital Board of Directors when the new facility is completed. Pearce, Riverside Chief Operating Officer Bill Downey and project consultant Steve Montgomery serve as non-voting staff to the Doctors Hospital Advisory Board.
The proposed new hospital has received broad support from the community, including proclamations of endorsement from the Williamsburg City Council and the James City County Board of Supervisors. Anheuser-Busch, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Ukrops are among those who have written letters supporting approval of the COPN application.
In a telephone survey of the Greater Williamsburg area conducted by Bonney & Company of Virginia Beach in February 2005, 91% of those interviewed said they believe the new hospital will have a positive impact on the Williamsburg area.
The survey also showed a strong preference for the involvement of local citizens (94%) and physicians (97%) in making health care decisions. The availability of a choice in hospitals was cited as beneficial by 80% of those interviewed in the survey.
Riverside’s application will be reviewed first by the regional Health Systems Agency (HSA) and the state COPN office. A public hearing in Williamsburg will take place in late August or early September. After recommendations by the HSA and the state COPN staff in October, the application will move to the State Health Commissioner for a final decision, expected in early December.
Published: July 8, 2005