Hearing held on Obici OR plans

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Obici Hospital is proposing to build a $7 million, 19,700-square-foot surgery center on its Godwin Boulevard campus.

With the city’s population growing rapidly, Obici is in dire need of the two additional operating rooms the proposed ambulatory surgical center would provide, said Chief Operating Officer Chet Hart.

He made the comments during Monday’s public hearing before the Eastern Virginia Health System Agency Inc., the state regulatory agency that helps determine whether healthcare facilities can expand. The panel, which met at Obici, also reviewed Riverside Hospital’s proposal to build an ambulatory surgery center in the Benn’s Church area of Isle of Wight County.

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Obici’s seven operating rooms are used for both inpatient and emergency room surgeries and outpatients that surgeons see in their office practices, Hart said. Two of those operating rooms are primarily used for outpatient surgery, procedures that would be diverted to the proposed new facility.

Right now, Hart said, the hospital is not able to accommodate all the surgeons seeking time on operating schedule.

&uot;We have a clear need for additional operating space at Obici,&uot; Hart said. &uot;We have more surgeons who want to come to Obici to practice but we are unable to give them blocks of time in the operating room.&uot;

Not having enough necessary surgical space is hindering the hospital’s ability to give quality medical care to the community, said Chief of Staff Dr. Brian Gruber, also an emergency room physician.

&uot;Sometime it takes a month to get on the surgical schedule, he said. &uot;We need to do better than that.&uot;

It’s not uncommon for surgical patients to be stuck in the emergency room for six or eight hours while waiting for an operating room to become available, he added.

&uot;This ties up beds in the emergency room,&uot; he said. &uot;…We have tried to streamline work and surgical schedules to make the operating rooms more efficient.

&uot;But we are at capacity. We need this facility to move forward and serve the community.&uot;

Monday’s hearing was standard in the state’s process for hospitals seeking to expand, said Paul M. Boynton, executive director of Eastern Virginia Health System. The agency’s board of directors will review both hospitals’ applications for certificates of public need at its April 12 meeting.

The board will then makes its recommendation to the state health commission, which will have up to 120 days to render its decisions, Boynton said.

If Obici’s application is approved, the hospital would break ground on the new facility in July 2006, Hart said.