Millville ER opens for the summer

The Millville Emergency Center, a Beebe emergency department satellite, will open for 24-hour-a-day service on Saturday, May 28. Beebe’s Sharon Harmon said they’d extended their season a bit last year, but found the move unsustainable and would close on Labor Day (Sept. 5) this year.

Center staff cared for 5,245 patients at the Route 26 location (next to Food Lion) last summer.

Beebe is a not-for-profit corporation. “We’re here to serve the community, and we’re not here to make money doing that,” Harmon pointed out.

Nevertheless, she said costs were still an issue. They still had to pay everyone and keep their equipment going — and there were projects in need of funding at the main Beebe facility, too, Harmon said. “For example, we know we need more in-patient beds, because we’re always full,” she pointed out.

In Lewes, the board of directors recently approved $53 million in capital improvements.

• Beebe plans to double the number of beds in its frequently overcrowded emergency department, from 18 to 36.

• The critical care unit (CCU) will be moved, and expanded from 12 to 20 beds.

• They will add a new, 42-bed medical-surgical unit.

• Plans also include two new operating rooms to accommodate additional technology and equipment (for heart surgeries, in particular).

• They will renovate the post-op recovery area, add a suite for heart testing and expand the cardiac rehabilitation program from eight to 16 stations.

As Harmon pointed out, all of Beebe’s extra income goes into these services and projects, and they’re trying to raise $11 million by the end of the year to receive a $1 million matching grant from the Longwood Foundation.

“We have to look at need based on the population in our community right now,” she said.

Although locals will have to keep waiting for year-round emergency services at Millville, Harmon said there was some good news — an increasing number of primary care physicians in the area. She said the emergency center was really for “episodic care,” and personal doctors could provide services with greater continuity.

And even from their main facility, certain patients had to be transported to Peninsula Regional or Christiana, she pointed out.

“We have a great relationship with the Emergency Medical Service (EMS), and other transport providers,” Harmon said. “Whether patients have to be transported from the South Coastal area to Lewes, or whether they have to be taken from Lewes to, say, shock trauma in another state, this is the system we have in place, and it works.”