Bayhealth officials are answering tough questions regarding the healthcare campus that is scheduled to open in southeast Milford in January 2019.
Bayhealth officials are hosting town hall meetings about the healthcare campus in the southeast corner of Milford, where ground will be broken next year.
These meetings are proving to be more than easy conversation over the complimentary cookies and juice.
Rather, hard questions are being asked and Michael Ashton, the facility administrator for Milford Memorial Hospital, is the one in charge of answering.
In Houston on Oct. 15, “we had 27 questions and that’s why we host these,” said Ashton. “We’re trying to be as transparent as possible and keep everybody in the loop as to what is taking place with the new health care campus.”
While people from the surrounding community might not agree on everything that Bayhealth has been doing, most do seem to appreciate the chance to discuss the project with the organization’s management.
“It’s always nice to be able to interact with what’s going on in your own personal community,” said Debra Mullins, a Milford resident. “Hopefully, they’re hearing what the people have to say.”
That, Ashton said, is exactly why Bayhealth is hosting town hall meetings at fire stations. There are meetings scheduled for Slaughter Beach (Nov. 2) and Milton (Nov. 18).
“It’s an exciting time, it’s a busy time, and it’s the right kind of work and it’s what we’ve been waiting years to do,” Ashton said. “The communities have been great, the staff has been great, and this is one of the greatest things we could be involved in.”
Most of the crowd of around 30 gathered at Houston’s fire station appeared to be excited about the $250-$300 million healthcare campus.
The project on 165 acres of land off Route 1 will take 26 to 30 months to complete once the ground is broken next spring, and is expected to open in January 2019.
Ashton provided the attendees with several updates, such as a recently announced collaboration with Nemours for pediatric and senior care.
He also went through key points Bayhealth has reached in the project timeline, such as hiring architectural firm CannonDesign to design the hospital, and hiring Whiting-Turner, a Newark company, for construction management.
Ashton said that Bayhealth is currently working on a certificate of public review application.
He also touched on how the architects are making sure the hospital is designed to be as efficient as possible for patients to get from one area to the next. He said it is starting to appear as if it will be a six-floor main campus building.
However, it was the location that most in the community appeared to be worried about.
The existing hospital, Milford Memorial, is at 21 West Clarke Avenue, right near downtown and with easy access to Route 113.
The campus will be on the opposite end of town, off Route 1, which often sees congested traffic throughout the summertime as tourists flock to the Delaware beaches. Reaching it will require a trip through downtown if an individual is coming from the west side of the city.
“I’m happy they are building the new healthcare campus, but I’m also really sad that it’s leaving the town,” Mullins said. “A question that one gentleman posed, and I’m thinking he’s an EMT, is that trying to get to that hospital is going to be quite difficult.
“I really want them to have a plan for getting from Route 113 and that side of town to the hospital. How are you going to get from the west side of town to the hospital in a timely fashion? That’s a major concern and hopefully it will be addressed by collaboration with the town and the hospital.”
Ashton said engineers are working on that, with multiple entrances off Wilkins Road and Cedar Creek Road.
“Believe me,” Ashton said, “our goal is to make this the easiest place to come to.”
Ben Hollinger Sr., of Milford, left the town hall meeting impressed with Bayhealth’s presentation.
“I thought the presentation was great,” Hollinger said. “They’ve still obviously got a long road ahead of them but you can tell they are trying their best.”
That was the main point that Ashton and other officials from Bayhealth were hoping to get across.