Editorial: Beebe to stay put, but build for the future

The population of Sussex County continues to grow. Stop us if you’ve heard this before.

And, yes, we have heard this for years, but the reason for this is clear — the population in Sussex County continues to rise, and there is no reason to believe that will really stop anytime soon.

With an eye on the future, as well as a realistic view of the present, Beebe Healthcare is looking at how to best fill the medical needs of people as more come to the area, while also being accountable to present-day costs.

According to Jeffrey Fried, Beebe’s CEO, the company was looking into the possibilities of building a brand-new hospital on its Route 54 location, however it turned out to be cost-prohibitive.

“The cost of doing so would be about $150 million more than what it would cost to do what we’re going to do on the main campus, and that’s a lot of money,” Fried explained to Sussex County Council on Tuesday, July 19.

That is a lot of money, and it’s especially a significant amount more than the $200 million they are planning to spend on the renovations at the Lewes campus, particularly if those renovations will fill the needs they want filled.

According to Beebe officials, the removal of the former Lewes convalescence center would create 135 additional parking spaces, and a new five-story patient tower would include potentially 112 beds. That almost doubles what they have now, and just makes sense.