Bayhealth facility still on despite Beebe opposition

Board parlimentary procedures questioned during approval process
December 31, 2020

A Bayhealth medical facility proposed for Harbeson remains on track despite recent opposition by Beebe Healthcare.

Beebe had requested reconsideration of Bayhealth's freestanding emergency department that was approved in September by the Delaware Health Resources Board. However, the board denied the request during its November meeting.

Dr. David Tam, president and chief executive officer of Beebe Healthcare, said Beebe understands the board's decision, and has no further comment at this point.

“Our focus now is expanding Beebe's own comprehensive healthcare services to members of our Sussex County communities,” he said.

In September, the Delaware Health Resources Board granted Bayhealth preliminary approval to move forward with plans for a combination emergency department and walk-in care center at an 18-acre site on Route 9 and Hudson Road near Harbeson.

Beebe then requested a public hearing for reconsideration of the board's approval, but the board postponed action on the request until its written decision had been issued.

At its Nov. 19 board meeting, with the written decision complete, the board proceeded with Beebe's reconsideration request, which stated the board materially failed to follow its adopted procedures when approving the Bayhealth site. By doing so, Beebe claimed, the board “acted outside of its statutory granted authority,” according to minutes of the Delaware Health Resources Board meeting.

Beebe went on to say that the board violated its bylaws that require all meetings follow parliamentary procedures in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order.

During board discussion, a deputy attorney general said Delaware law does not require boards to follow Robert’s Rules, and the board is allowed to follow some aspects of Robert’s parliamentary procedures such as how votes and roll call are taken without following every procedure to a T.

“Even though the board's bylaws cite that the board will conduct business in accordance to Robert’s Rules of Order, this does not prevent the chair of the board from participating in the discussions at meetings,” the minutes read.

Beebe also took issue over the board repeatedly talking about Bayhealth's walk-in care service in conjunction with the facility during a September meeting. According to the minutes, Beebe said the board “considered and relied in substantial part upon Bayhealth's provision of a walk-in care service at the facility in which walk-in care centers are not within the board's regulatory authority.”

The deputy attorney general, however, advised the board that they can consider the benefits of walk-in care even though the board is only voting on a freestanding emergency department application.

In reviewing Beebe's letter asking the board to reconsider its approval of the Bayhealth facility, members disagreed with Beebe's assertion that the board had materially failed to follow its adopted procedures, the minutes read.

“Given the information provided by [the deputy attorney general] that Delaware boards are not required to follow Robert’s Rules of Order, it is not believed that the board has failed to follow its adopted procedures,” the minutes read.

The board denied by a 7-1 vote Beebe's request to reconsider its Bayhealth facility decision. Lewes Mayor Ted Becker is a member of the board, but he recused himself from the discussion and did not participate.

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