The Loudoun Hospital Center plans to reopen the facility’s “crown jewel” as a 24-hour emergency department, using the Cornwall campus in Leesburg that sat nearly empty for five years.
“Today, we’re absolutely thrilled to bring the crown jewel of the Loudoun campus [on-line] … to meet the health care needs in central and western Loudoun,” said Rodney Huebbers, president and CEO of Loudoun Healthcare, Inc., at Monday's announcement.
A 10,000-square-foot section of the Cornwall building will be remodeled, adding another 18 to 20 emergency beds to the 37 beds at the Lansdowne facility, which opened east of Leesburg in 1997. Remodeling the building, located on a 15-acre site near Cornwall Street and Memorial Drive, is expected to cost $1.5 million for construction and equipment. The building's remaining section will continue to be leased, as has been done for the past two years.
Huebbers said he expects the Cornwall building, scheduled to open in the fall or winter, to help relieve pressure on the Lansdowne facility by providing a second receiving station and by reducing waiting times for patients at Lansdowne, which serves 30,000 patients a year in the emergency department. The Cornwall facility is expected to serve a minimum of 11,000 people living in northwest, west and central Loudoun.
"We’re deemed an underserved area,” Huebbers said. “Patient satisfaction is one of our biggest issues.”
Patients needing to stay overnight will be transported to the Lansdowne facility, since the new facility will not provide overnight care. The emergency department at the new facility will be supported with diagnostic imaging, emergency laboratory and pharmacy support services.
THE CORNWALL FACILITY is expected to double the hospital’s emergency capacity, allowing hospital staff at both facilities to more “expediently see patients,” said Edward Puccio, medical director for the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Loudoun Hospital Center. He added that in the slow season, the facility still is overcrowded. “We have done so many things to expand the emergency department, [but] it’s hard to keep pace with the growth," Puccio said. "The county is growing much more rapidly than some of these expansions can handle."
Fiscal projections show the Cornwall facility may not reach a break-even point for the first three years and may operate at a deficit as high as $2.5 million during that time period.
"Even considering the potential deficit projections, Loudoun Hospital's fiscal position and its commitment to the community are both strong enough to move forward on this project at this time, especially given the need for additional health care in the west," Huebbers said.
The Loudoun Hospital Center experienced a net loss of $773,000 in 1998 and by 2000 returned to a net gain of $855,000, followed with a gain of $7.67 million in 2001. In 2002, Loudoun Healthcare, Inc., the parent company of the hospital and other hospital facilities, is expected to show a net gain of $12 to $13 million for the year.
"The Loudoun Hospital Center has shown a steady increase in its net income for the last 14 months," said Jeff Cowart, hospital spokesperson. He added that both Loudoun Healthcare, Inc. and the Loudoun Health Center have operated in the black on a month-to-month basis for the past 22 months.
“It’s getting back to what we should be, which is a hospital,” Huebbers said. “The expenses got out of hand. Making it up in volume wasn’t the thing."
Huebbers plans to form an advisory committee to discuss and help set strategies for Cornwall's emergency department. Construction is scheduled to begin in July.
HUEBBERS MADE a second announcement about Loudoun Hospital Center's plans. The hospital recently submitted a letter of intent asking the state to allow the facility to increase bed capacity from 145 beds to 190 to 200 beds by 2012. The facility added 42 beds in the past year and a half. A formal certificate of need for the additional beds will be filed by July 1. A certificate of need is not required for the Cornwall facility remodeling project.
Huebbers said the hospital has plans to open a health complex in eastern Loudoun and is looking for a site.
“What a marvelous turnout that has come about ... since his reign of the hospital,” said Board of Supervisors chairman Scott York (R-At Large) about Huebbers taking over as CEO in April 2000.