Despite Hospital Corporation of America's repeated attempts to make its proposed Broadlands Regional Medical Center more palatable for the county, it still faces an uphill battle in getting final approval for the new hospital.
On Monday, the 164-bed hospital application came before a Board of Supervisors committee for discussion for the first time — a full three years after HCA proposed locating in Loudoun County.
A series of legal wrangles between for-profit HCA and local nonprofit Inova Healthcare, a subsidiary of Inova Health System, delayed the process.
The board's Transportation and Land Use committee did not, as HCA had hoped, endorse the new hospital. Instead, after interrogating HCA's attorney for more than two hours on the proposal's merits, supervisors voted to send the proposal to the July 19 Board of Supervisors meeting with no recommendation.
Originally, Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) seemed to have the committee's support to send the proposal ahead with a recommendation of outright denial, but backed off at the request of Supervisor Sally Kurtz (D-Catoctin), who wanted to have more information from county staff before voting for denial.
Because of a full schedule at Tuesday's meeting, the discussion on Broadlands Regional Medical Center will take place at the Aug. 1 board meeting.
IN ADDITION, the $8 million HCA has proffered to improve Belmont Ridge Road near its Broadlands site, it is also offering $200,000 to combat cut-through traffic in Broadlands, should it ever become a problem, said HCA attorney Mark Looney.
Cut-through traffic had been one of the many concerns raised by residents at last month's public hearing on the hospital.
The debate has divided the Broadlands community. Dozens of residents who live within blocks of HCA's 58-acre site on Broadlands Boulevard showed up Monday. They wore bright yellow "I live in the HCA fallout zone" T-shirts.
The Broadlands Homeowners' Association is divided on the issue as well.
The rest of the county has watched the debate with some interest as well. Currently, Loudoun Healthcare's 155-bed Lansdowne campus is the county's only inpatient facility. Loudoun Healthcare has emergency services at Cornwall Street in Leesburg. A little over half the county's population leaves Loudoun for health care.
But despite HCA's claim that the Broadlands site would improve health care access for all residents, even by its own figures, overall access improvement is negligible.
According to HCA's figures, only Arcola and Ashburn — and, naturally, Broadlands — residents would reach Broadlands in a significantly faster time than Lansdowne for communities between the two hospitals. All other residents would either have a one- to eight-minute driving time cut, or have a slightly longer drive.
CHAIRMAN SCOTT YORK (I-At Large) has been the only supervisor to vocally support HCA's proposal.
On Monday, he tried to alleviate residents' concerns that a hospital near a residential community is an unusual thing by displaying aerial views of several regional hospitals that clearly show residential communities directly adjacent to hospital buildings.
On an aerial view of Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington: "As you will see, all around the site, nothing but single-family residences," he said.
On an aerial view of Inova Alexandria Hospital: "Again, all around them, single-family units."
Even Loudoun's own Inova Loudoun in Lansdowne has hospital buildings across the street from residential units, York pointed out.
But Snow wasn't convinced.
"The fact of the matter is, he showed examples of how not to do it," Snow said, averring that the hospitals came first, not the communities, as it is in Broadlands. "You have communities and you're going to put a hospital in the middle of communities. I've watched Fair Oaks grow up, and communities grew around it."
Supervisor Mick Staton (R-Sugarland Run) also voiced his disapproval of the project.
"I don't think this use fits at this site, based on this information," Staton said.
HCA's Broadlands Regional Medical Center CEO, Bryan Dearing, has said that the company will consider litigation if the county denies its request.