Riverside announces plans for 50-bed IW hospital 

Published 3:19 pm Friday, June 11, 2021

Riverside Health System has proposed to build a 50-bed hospital on nearly 30 acres it owns in the Benn’s Grant area of Isle of Wight County.

It filed a letter of intent earlier this month to apply for a certificate of public need to build an acute care hospital in the area near U.S. Route 258 and VA Route 10, and will file a certificate of public need with the Virginia Department of Health by July.

“As we look at our strategic plan over the next several years, we’re very excited by the possibilities here in terms of the growth of your people and also the ability to serve patients,” Riverside President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Mike Dacey told the Isle of Wight County board of supervisors at its June 10 meeting.

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Dacey, in a June 11 phone interview, said the new hospital would cost north of $100 million and expects it to be open by mid-2025 if approved. Increasing costs for building materials could drive the hospital’s price tag even higher, he said, and a worker shortage could affect the timeline of its opening.

Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News — about a 30-minute drive from the proposed site of the new hospital — and its other clinics already serve “thousands” of Isle of Wight residents yearly, he said.

“The two reasons for wanting the hospital over there is one, to serve the people closer to where they are,” Dacey said, “and two, it does help to decompress the medical center, which would be beneficial to everyone.”

Dacey said its hospital in Newport News was at capacity and in need of relief. He also said it would help shorten EMS times. Another reason for the proposed hospital is the number of medical issues county residents face, including diabetes, cancer, heart disease and behavioral health.

“We would be very enthusiastic and excited about being able to provide that care locally in this area,” Dacey said.

With five hospitals, including Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, it hopes to have the hospital approved by the end of this year, Dacey said.

Riverside plans to pattern the Isle of Wight facility after the roughly 140,000-square-foot Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital in Onancock in Accomack County on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

It would employ “several hundred” people, and Dacey expects that Riverside’s other services in Isle of Wight would grow with the new hospital.

“It would be a full-scale hospital,” Dacey said. “It would be everything that you would expect a hospital to be.”

While it wouldn’t perform more complex procedures such as heart surgeries, it would provide nearly all the services that people in Isle of Wight need, he said, and it would be built so that it could add additional services as needed.

Of the 50 beds, 34 would be medical/surgical beds, 10 ICU specialty beds and six obstetric beds, to go with four operating rooms, an emergency department and other diagnostic and physician services if the COPN is approved.

Riverside said its application is integral to its vision “to provide trusted, quality care and services that enhance the quality of life in the communities it serves.”

Riverside officials say it will build on a longstanding relationship it has with Isle of Wight while providing high-quality health care for a growing community.

While Sentara and Bon Secours have not, as yet, been able to establish a hospital in the Harbour View area in the northern part of Suffolk — both have medical facilities in that area — Dacey believes Riverside can clearly justify the need for a full-service hospital in Isle of Wight.

“We think we’ve got a very good argument for that area in need of a hospital. … We think it’s geographically distinct from the other hospitals in the region,” Dacey said, “far enough away that it really creates a situation where we’re able to meet the needs of the local population without hurting the volume at the other hospitals in the region.”

Hospital needs, he said, have been more exposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“After the last 18 months, you need some capacity in hospital beds, because you just don’t know when the next pandemic is going to occur,” Dacey said. “We think that hospital beds overall, adding 50 beds to that area is wise from both a pandemic preparation standpoint as well as meeting the needs of the population closer to where they are living.”

Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution in support of the proposed hospital. Dacey said Riverside is grateful for the support from local officials and residents.

“We think it’s a great opportunity for patients and a great opportunity for the whole region,” Dacey said. “It’d be great for health care and great for the economy.”