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Inova Moving South

Soon Dulles South residents will not find themselves driving all the way to Lansdowne or Fairfax County for their major medical needs. Last fall, Inova announced plans to open two new facilities in Dulles South, a medical center and a HealthPlex, in order to provide more services to residents on the Route 50 corridor.

"When Inova and Loudoun Hospital merged last year, we outlined funds to allow us to expand throughout Loudoun County," David Goldberg, vice president of planning and development for Inova Loudoun Hospital, said.

On June 25, Inova broke ground on the planned medical center located on Route 50 near South Riding and Stone Ridge. It is the first major step toward completing the plan it laid out last fall. Goldberg said he hopes the medical center will be open around the end of year.

The 22,000-square-foot facility will house a full-service radiology department including X-ray services and an urgent-care center on its first floor. The second floor will be leased out to physicians including pediatricians, family practices and internal medicine and other specialists, Goldberg said.

PLANS FOR THE second facility are also underway. In January, Inova purchased 94 acres near Arcola from the Shockey family for the HealthPlex and filed a special-exception application with the county, something it hopes will be approved by the Board of Supervisors by the end of the year. Goldberg said Inova expects the HealthPlex to be open sometime in 2008 or 2009.

The HealthPlex will include a 24-hour emergency room, physical therapy, a pharmacy as well as physicians' offices and, Goldberg said, Inova plans to apply for a special exception that would allow it to have MRI services at the facility in the future.

"As the community grows, the population grows," Goldberg said. "We grow [as well], with the commitment to provide all the services that the community needs. That is one of the great things about [Inova], we can focus on those services and not the bottom line."

While it will be at least several months before Dulles South residents have access to the planned services, Goldberg said they should "rest assured."

"They are going to see these services," he said. "They are going to see that level of care."

WITH ONLY ONE hospital in Loudoun, the county runs below the average number of inpatient beds for Northern Virginia, which might indicate residents need more that just outpatient facilities. However, Tony Raker, director of community relations for Inova Loudoun Hospital, said the two planned facilities are meeting the immediate needs of the residents.

"This has always been an accessibility issue," he said. "It is really about getting the citizens the easy access to the basic medical care they need."

Inova Loudoun Hospital's 155-bed facility, which just received approval for an additional 12 beds as part of its intensive-care unit's expansion, saw an average of 121.7 inpatients per day.

"There has been the opinion to say there is an emergency bed crisis in Loudoun County, but these statistics don't support that," Raker said. "If there was, we would have been at overcapacity."

Instead of focusing on numbers, Inova prefers to focus on the people and what they really need.

"If you live in South Riding, the closest [hospital] from there is Loudoun Hospital, but it's not easy to get to," Goldberg said. "It is sometimes faster to go to Fairfax County, but then you are dealing with traffic issues going east on Route 50."

Indeed, Dulles South-resident Laura Tekrony, who is a member of the citizen organization Families for Dulles South, uses a South Riding pediatrician for her children, but travels to Reston for her own doctor.

"It's not bad as far as distance," she said. "I don't have a lot of complaints about that."

Even though Tekrony does not mind commuting for her medical care, she said Inova's plans for Dulles South were "great."

"It's needed," she said. "Health services are needed along Route 50. We don't really have a lot of physicians out here."

In the future, Inova says, there is a possibility that they might bring a full hospital to Dulles South, but it has yet to get a certificate of public need from Virginia's state health commissioner.

Tekrony said she is not sure that Dulles South needs a hospital in light of the hospital proposed by Health Corporation of America, which is being argued in court. HCA's zoning application and proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment, which would has led to the building a hospital in Broadlands, was denied by the Board of Supervisors last year.

"They [HCA] have their certificate of public need," Tekrony said. "If they win their lawsuit, I am wondering if we need another hospital [in this area.]"

Whatever the distance future brings for Inova and Dulles South, residents are happy with the current projects and are excited to see Inova facilities in their district.

"They really are great," Tekrony said. "They've done a lot for Loudoun County."