Hospital would be a game-changer

Published 4:41 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Riverside Health System’s proposed 50-bed, full-service hospital at Benn’s Grant could be transformational for Isle of Wight County.

Beyond the obvious economic impact of several hundred new, good-paying jobs, a hospital is an essential amenity for a growing community like northern Isle of Wight, positioned close enough to the Peninsula and “South of the James” cities to attract new residents but a little too far from major health care facilities. If you’re in the back of an ambulance, do you really want to cross the James River Bridge or travel 30 minutes to Suffolk?

Riverside officials filed a letter of intent with the state earlier this month to apply for a certificate of public need to build an acute care hospital in the area near Routes 258 and 10. The formal filing with the Virginia Department of Health is expected by next month.

Riverside President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Mike Dacey told the Times last week that the new hospital would cost over $100 million and could be operational by mid-2025 if it clears regulatory hurdles and the labor market cooperates. Of the 50 planned beds, 34 would be medical/surgical beds, 10 ICU specialty beds and six obstetric beds, to go with four operating rooms, an emergency department and other diagnostic and physician services.

We believe Riverside has an excellent case for a certificate of need, which the state uses to prevent excess health care supply in a geographic area. We’ve long preferred to let the free market make those determinations, but it’s the way the system works in Virginia, and the state is all-powerful in determining which health care facilities are built where.

Riverside, which operates a large hospital in Newport News, knows Isle of Wight well, serving thousands of its residents yearly. In addition to making hospital access much more convenient for local citizens, the Isle of Wight hospital will have the dual benefit of taking some stress off Riverside Regional Medical Center, which operates at capacity.

We urge the state to give Riverside’s application swift review and approval.