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Facilities Plan On Agenda

Planning Commission to hold public hearing on comprehensive plan amendment on Dec. 13.

After 10 months of tweaking, the comprehensive plan amendment (CPAM) proposed by Loudoun Healthcare to address the county's health care needs is ready for public comment.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed amendment on Dec. 13, at 6 p.m., in the government center in Leesburg; the amendment is the last item on the agenda.

Loudoun Healthcare first introduced the CPAM in March of this year. Since 51 percent of Loudoun residents receive health care outside the county, often traveling long distances, it was clear that facilities in addition to Loudoun Healthcare's 155-bed center at Lansdowne and outpatient facility in Leesburg were necessary.

The Board of Supervisors agreed, and the amendment first proposed by Loudoun Healthcare was adopted as a board CPAM and set on the fast-track with county staff and the Planning Commission.

The proposed CPAM will add a plan for health care facilities in the county's Revised General Plan, which currently does not address health care facilities.

When the amendment was introduced by Loudoun Healthcare, it proposed several options for providing convenient medical services for Loudoun residents: an addition of 33 inpatient beds at Loudoun Healthcare's Leesburg facilities; an additional hospital in the Route 50 corridor; and health community centers in Lovettsville, Purcellville, Middleburg and the Dulles Airport.

While Loudoun Healthcare has made a significant stride in making those facilities a reality with its recent merger with Inova Health Systems, each facility requires a Certificate of Public Need (COPN) from the state health commissioner. The COPN for the inpatient beds in Leesburg was denied earlier this year, although applying more than once is not unusual.

The state health commissioner did grant a certificate of public need, however, for a 164-bed hospital in Ashburn called the Broadlands Regional Medical Center. The center would be located about five miles from Loudoun Hospital Center in Lansdowne, which has caused Loudoun Healthcare to decry the proposed center. The Broadlands Regional Medical Center, which is owned by the Hospital Corporation of America, still requires a special exception rezoning from the Board of Supervisors and is not included in the health care CPAM under consideration.

The planning staff's draft policies and staff report on the health care facilities plan is available at the county Web site, at www.loudoun.gov/compplan/healthcare.htm. To speak at the public hearing, sign up with the clerk before the hearing begins.

After the hearing, the Planning Commission can vote to forward the CPAM to the Committee of the Whole for further discussion, or make an alternative motion.

— Suzannah Evans