Looking to meet the demands of a growing population in Sussex County, Beebe Healthcare has been busy opening, renovating and building new locations. However, healthcare competitors Bayhealth and ChristianaCare recognize the county’s population growth too and are looking to take their piece of the healthcare pie.
ChristianaCare recently announced it plans to open a facility on Route 1 north of Rehoboth Beach. Bayhealth just opened a brand-new hospital in Milford and has a sign up for a proposed location on Route 9 outside Lewes.
Still, said Marcy Jack, Beebe Healthcare vice president and chief quality and safety officer, those recently built and proposed brick-and-mortar locations are not Beebe’s main competition. That is telemedicine, said Jack when speaking at the Oct. 6 Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon.
On hand to highlight Beebe’s continued investment in its Sussex County services, Jack said Beebe’s own telemedicine offerings have grown significantly since COVID began, which she said has led the hospital to ask itself why it didn’t do more sooner.
Jack said other investments in Sussex County include the soon-to-be-opened facility on Route 24, the recently opened facility in South Bethany, renovations to the anchor facility in Lewes, and the introduction of new providers, surgeons and other services.
There are no plans to expand outside Sussex County, said Jack.
Typically, the luncheons feature one speaker, but Cape Henlopen School District Superintendent Bob Fulton also gave a brief presentation. Similar to Jack, Fulton was there to provide chamber members with a high-level overview of all the construction the district has undergone over the past few years and will undergo over the next few – new elementary schools, a new middle school and an addition to the high school.
That’s $300 million, said Fulton. There’s a lot going on, he said.
Again, similar to Beebe, Cape has had to answer the call for new construction because of an increase in student population. Fulton provided a slide during his presentation that showed the district’s student population has increased from 4,150 in 2001 to 6,077 in 2021 – roughly a 46 percent increase.
Fulton recognized how the local community has supported the district over the past decade by easily passing a number of referendums to help pay for the district’s portion of the new construction. Not very many school districts can say that, he said.
There was a referendum slated for early 2020 to help the district pay for operational expenses, but it was postponed because of COVID. Fulton said he’s not sure when the district will bring it forward again, but he expects the school board to begin discussing it in November.
Citing a recent University of Delaware study, Fulton said the district’s retention rates for staff are the highest in the state. People come here as their end game, he said.