A small army of ambulances was on the march in Milford Feb. 5 as Bayhealth moved its patients from Milford Memorial Hospital to its new Sussex County campus off Route 1.
About 72 patients made the trip to Bayhealth’s new $314 million hospital. The first of those patients was Al Lakomyj, accompanied by his wife, Diane. “I’m excited,” he said. “I look forward to this. It’s a surreal experience.”
Diane said Al has been in the hospital for almost three months. He’d had heart surgery and then shortly after surgery, he flatlined, she said. Diane said he has been making progress ever since trying to come back. She said they were honored to be the first patients at the new hospital.
“It must be state-of-the-art. We’re looking forward to seeing it. All he’s talked about is getting his hands on a bicycle. He’s determined to get out of hospitals and be like he was before,” Diane said. “I have every intention of taking him home.”
The Lakomyjs joined Bayhealth staff in cutting the ribbon on the new hospital, which is now officially open for business.
Terry Murphy, president and CEO of Bayhealth, said the old hospital will be converted to a 150-bed skilled nursing facility run by Nationwide Healthcare Services. He said the new hospital will add 114 jobs to the area, while the Nationwide facility will add 300 more.
Murphy said the new hospital gives Bayhealth great access and will allow them to accommodate future growth. He said Bayhealth looked at 15 different sites before settling on the one ultimately chosen. “We knew this is where the growth was happening, plus it had enough property to where we could expand over time,” Murphy said.
Besides the new hospital, Nemours is planning to use eight acres of the site to build a 90,000-square-foot physician office.
Seventeen ambulances were used to move the patients; Murphy said Bayhealth tried to lower its number of patients before making the move. The new hospital has 128 beds, which is about the same as the old hospital. The difference, Murphy said, is that spaces are shelled in and there is capability to grow over time. He said the layout of the new building is much easier to navigate and operations are more centralized.
Of the new facility, Murphy said moving in brings him a great sense of pride. “It’s a big deal for all of us,” he said.
Dr. Julianne Wysocki is medical director of Bayhealth’s Sussex emergency department.
“Everything is state-of-the-art and brand new. We have a lot more beds available. We now have a 30-bed emergency department. Everything is closer to diagnostic imaging, which allows us to apply better care to our patients,” she said.
Wysocki said the hospital also includes a Da Vinci robot for robotic surgery, and a new ultrasound, which allows doctors to diagnose patients at bedside. She said the new patient rooms are designed to make care much easier for doctors and patients, and the hospital itself has more room for people to move around.
“We have more capabilities here,” Wysocki said.
Milford Memorial Hospital was built in 1938 off Causey Street in downtown Milford. Murphy started his career with Bayhealth in 2001, working on the administrative side, and he said it was a bittersweet feeling seeing the old hospital go.
“It’s sad to leave, but we also know that what we’re doing here is advancing healthcare. This is a gem not only in the state but in the Mid-Atlantic area,” he said.