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BelleHarbour services praised

The Sentara BelleHarbour outpatient medical center in North Suffolk now has been open for three months, and leaders praised the success of the building and the many services it offers.

“We think it’s gone very well,” said Kurt Hofelich, the vice president of ambulatory sites for Sentara. “We opened on time, and we’ve had very good support from the community.”

On June 2, the building opened with an emergency department and imaging center. A couple of weeks later, the Sentara Medical Group practice opened in the building, and about two weeks ago, the sleep center and physical therapy center followed suit. About 7,500 patients have come through the facility altogether, Hofelich said.

“That’s a good response from the community,” he said. He noted the good working relationships that have been established with the local emergency medical services.

“On any given day, we have emergency patients being transported via ambulance to the facility,” he said.

Of the patients seen in the emergency department, about 6 percent have required admission to a full-service hospital, Hofelich said. Patients have gone to every hospital in the area, including those in the Bon Secours and Riverside health systems.

“It’s been a very good community collaborative effort,” he said.

To support the full-service emergency department, the BelleHarbour site has diagnostic imaging including digital X-rays, CT and ultrasound, a full-service pharmacy, an analysis laboratory and several other functions.

“We’ve had a lot of orthopedic-type injuries,” Hofelich said. He also mentioned work-related injuries and ailments such as dizzy spells and fainting as high-ranking emergency room visit causes.

The non-emergency aspects of BelleHarbour have proved just as popular, Hofelich said. Patients have enjoyed the services of the traveling MRI, the medical group, the sleep center and more, he said.

Future plans for the site include having more primary care and specialty physicians occupy space in the building, Hofelich said. The building then can be a medical community unto itself, with the emergency department referring patients to primary care physicians once the urgency has passed, and primary care physicians referring to specialists for specific problems.

The location, at the convergence of Suffolk, Isle of Wight County, Chesapeake and Portsmouth, has drawn its patients from all over the area, said Gloria Seitz, a Sentara spokeswoman.

“I just think it’s really exciting,” she said. “People are just so excited to have that convenience.”