FRONT ROYAL – As referenced in our story on the first Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting of 2018, the plan for a new Warren Memorial Hospital to be constructed off Leach Run Parkway between the new Warren County Middle School and John Marshall Highway does not contain a maternity ward. See story here. It is a fact raising alarm bells with some county residents.
Following the county supervisors January 3 meeting, at which a request for a Letter of Support for Valley Health’s Certificate of Need for a new facility, the Royal Examiner spoke to Valley Health representative Terry Mayes about the decision to build a new hospital in Warren County designed to serve the community’s needs, one might guess for at least a half century or more – the existing Warren Memorial Hospital is 65 years old according to the county report on plans for a replacement facility.
Mayes said the decision was based on existing birth numbers at WMH over the past five years. Annual births have averaged 333 over that five-year period, less than one a day. Mayes said the last time she checked the suggested annual average to justify maintaining a hospital maternity ward was 500 births.
“The planning team and Valley Health Board took this decision very seriously, it was not taken lightly,” Mayes says. She said the low volume of births at WMH has created recruiting difficulties for medical personnel with a focus on maternity.
Of a concern the absence of a maternity ward at a new WMH would result in births occurring in the hospital’s emergency room, Mayes said Valley Health planned additional training and staff in the new facility’s ER to address that likelihood. She added that coordination would occur with Winchester Medical Center’s maternity staff and local emergency services to accommodate future births originating in Warren County, planned for transport to WMC about 25 miles away. The new hospital is slated to open in 2020.
Mayes also observed that prenatal care provided in Warren County by Valley Health’s Obstetrics and Gynecology departments and Front Royal Family Practice would be utilized to identify any potential complications that might suggest early transport for a pregnant mother to the Winchester facility. – “We will be proactive if a need is identified, pre-birth evaluations, planning transport ahead” all will be applied to Warren County’s maternity needs, Mayes said.
Of the likelihood planned future growth – there are residential development plans for as many as 1138 new homes on about 750 acres on the town’s east side by Front Royal Limited Partnership alone – will result in an increased county birth rate, Mayes said the new WMH campus will have space to expand services if necessary. However, in the agenda packet summary of the new hospital plan it is noted that Valley Health believes
much of future Warren County residential development will target “senior adults” with “a nominal increase in women of childbearing age”.
While there is not space in the new hospital design to add a maternity ward, a wellness center also planned for the hospital campus could be physically expanded if necessary, Mayes said.
The project summary presented to the county board of supervisors on January 3 states that “the new hospital campus will occupy approximately 28 acres of the 150-acre parcel” Valley Health acquired for the project in 2008.
What IS planned for the new hospital are:
· 36 private inpatient rooms;
· 18 Emergency Department rooms, with space for four additional rooms;
· Three operating rooms;
· Two endoscopy/procedure rooms;
· A cardiac catheterization lab;
· And green space and walking trails to encourage staff, patients and visitors to down-time, healthful, outdoor activity.
AND that wellness center that could be, or has adjacent land upon which a maternity ward could be added, if and when necessary.