HCA No, YMCA Maybe

HCA No, YMCA Maybe

As decided this month, the Broadlands development may be getting a YMCA or other recreation facility on land the developer proffered to the county, but it will not be getting a hospital on another plot of land eyed by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA).

The decisions came from two governing bodies for the 1,500-acre, 3,500-home community that is under development near the Dulles Greenway.

On Friday, State Health Commissioner Robert Stroube denied the Certificate of Public Need (COPN) application for Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA, along with those for Loudoun Hospital Center to add 32 beds and Inova Fair Oaks Hospital to add beds at the Fairfax County facility.

"We are disappointed with the state's decision, but we do understand," said David Goldberg, vice-president of development for the Loudoun Hospital Center, adding that 25 medical surgical beds already approved through the COPN process will be operational within the next two weeks. "As more resources need to be brought on line, we feel we're the ones who can do it, along with the other area hospitals already in place."

Goldberg said Stroube's decision regarding HCA was "appropriate." HCA sought building a 180-bed hospital to replace two existing facilities in Northern Virginia and combine their services into one building for psychiatric care, general acute care and medical and surgical services. The proposed site for the hospital was about five miles from Loudoun Hospital Center's location in Lansdowne.

“I say the state needs to take a look at HSA’s [Health Systems Agency] process of reviewing COPNs,” said Supervisor Eleanore Towe (D-Blue Ridge) following the March 3 Board of Supervisors meeting, which adjourned at noon. “That HSA system of looking at whether we need beds here is broken. It’s a bureaucracy not responsible to citizen needs. It’s horrible. We need to get rid of it.”

Towe mentioned the lack of a hospital facility in the 40-mile stretch from Lansdowne to Winchester. “Obviously, the message was lost … that we here in Loudoun have an over-tasked hospital,” she said. “If we had a catastrophic emergency, what would we do?”

Chairman Scott York (R-At large) agreed. “Richmond needs to understand and do a whole lot better for this community,” he said.

THE BOARD of Supervisors was more conducive to the wishes of the Metropolitan Washington YMCA to locate in Broadlands, which is being developed by Broadlands Associates, a partnership between TerraBrook and the Van Metre Companies.

Through a resolution, the board unanimously tasked staff to study locating a YMCA recreation center with a teen center in Loudoun, including at YMCA’s preferred site in Broadlands Park. YMCA proposes using private funds to build a 60,000-square-foot facility on the 15-acre site, which is located near Route 659 and Truro Parish Road.

The YMCA facility would allow the county to eliminate a $7.6 million county-funded recreation center from the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for Fiscal Years 2004-08. The county recreation center is proposed at 25,000 square feet and is scheduled for construction in FY-06.

Supervisor William Bogard (R-Sugarland Run) offered a friendly amendment to drop "Broadlands" from the resolution in favor of stating “Loudoun.”

The maker of the motion James Burton (I-Mercer) accepted the friendly amendment as long as discussions include the Broadlands site. “This is a direction to continue talking, and hopefully something will come out of it,” he said.

York told the board to pay attention to the proffer, which provides for sole government use of the site, adding that a proffer amendment would be needed to locate the YMCA facility there. He mentioned YMCA’s proposal to lease the site for a nominal sum for 50 years and that the county dedicate the site to YMCA at that time. “There should be some payment to the community for [the site],” he said about his hesitation to declare the site to YMCA.

Supervisor Charles Harris (D-Broad Run) requested that staff identify alternative sites and the other facilities that could be displaced by YMCA locating in Broadlands. He said YMCA should submit a business plan with milestone dates, mentioning that YMCA took a decade to build the Reston facility. “I’m concerned about promises made but not kept,” he said

IN OTHER BUSINESS, the Board of Supervisors:

* Heard an update on the Loudoun Community Free Clinic, as provided by Lyle Werner, the clinic's executive director. The clinic, which assists Loudoun residents in need of health care services, has conducted 1,400 patient visits since the clinic opened in January 2002. The clinic is located in Loudoun Hospital Center's Cornwall campus in Leesburg.

“People who earn a modest salary can’t afford individual plans,” Werner said, adding that they earn too much to receive Medicaid benefits. They “are faced with choices no one should have to make.”

In Northern Virginia, 11 percent of residents lack health insurance, compared to 14.9 percent statewide and 14.6 percent nationally. Of those who are uninsured, 80 percent are from working families, most of them in service jobs that typically pay lower wages and offer benefits less often or at a cost too high to afford, Werner said.

A core of 16 volunteers, including those in the medical profession, provides the clinic services on Wednesday and Thursday evenings for low-income, uninsured adults living in the county.

“What we do is never enough,” Werner said. “We’re not a solution to the problem of the uninsured.”

York read a proclamation declaring the week of March 10-16 as Cover the Uninsured Week in Loudoun County.

“We don’t need national health care, but we need reform,” York said, adding that through reform, the costs of health insurance could be lowered.

* Approved a third annual renewal $20,000 allocation for the final year of the five-year Loudoun Environmental Indicators Project (LEIP). So far, the county has provided $100,000 for the project, which receives funding from other sources in addition to the county funding.

LEIP is a partnership between the county and George Washington University (GWU) that was established in 1999. LEIP monitors and interprets key indicators of the county’s environment, including air and water quality, anticipates the potential effects of development and provides an annual trend analysis of changes to the county’s environment.