Inova Health System has filed a letter of intent with the Commonwealth of Virginia to establish a Long Term Acute Care Hospital within Inova Mount Vernon Hospital that would serve the entire Northern Virginia region. If approved it will provide 50 acute care beds within Mt. Vernon.
Announcement of the new unit was alluded to by hospital Chief Executive Officer Barbara Doyle during a June 13 meeting of the Southeast Health Planning Task Force held in the conference room of Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald Hyland. She declined to elaborate on the plans at that time.
Hyland pointed out that the letter to the State Health Commissioner was "a matter of public record" and he saw no need for its content not to be made public.
On Monday, June 18, as a result of Hyland’s decision, Doyle issued a news release saying the letter of intent "is the first step in an extended planning and approval process that will involve the state and federal governments."
No timeline for the establishment of the new unit was given either at the meeting or in the news release.
In the news release, Doyle is quoted as pointing out that Northern Virginia has a "desperate need" for acute care beds "for those patients who require longer stays." She also states, "If plans for the proposed unit are approved, Inova Mount Vernon Hospital would be delighted to host those services." "We are working behind the scenes to offer a new service which I can not unveil tonight because there is still lots of work to be done," Doyle told the Task Force chaired by Anne Andrews. "But, it is something that is going to help us get our volume up to where it used to be."
Such a unit would treat patients whose medical conditions require stays longer "than what is allotted under current Center for Medicare and Medicaid services regulations, such as patients needing extended trauma care, ventilatory dependent patients, and cardiac rehabilitation patients," according to Inova Health Systems.
It was also pointed out that, "The unit will allow the hospital to reallocate its resources, putting it in an even better financial position." According to Doyle, "This service would be an investment in the hospital that will help ensure its long-term viability for the community."
Knox Singleton, president and CEO of Inova Health, said, "We're working to bring a critical service to the Mount Vernon Community and ensuring that the hospital has the necessary resources to continue caring for the sickest patients, be it in the Emergency Department or more long term. This new acute care specialty unit would be an extension of our commitment to the community we serve and all of Northern Virginia."
ANOTHER TOPIC discussed by the Task Force which directly impacts Mt. Vernon Hospital’s future is the planned IHS Lorton Healthplex -- a 107,000 square feet ambulatory care center offering a comprehensive range of outpatient services plus a medical office building. "Discussions continue with the developer with regards to planning timelines and final building design," Doyle told the Task Force.
"I have a meeting next week with the project manager and, at that time, should be updated on the timeline for groundbreaking and project implementation. The latest estimate is that the building should be completed by 2010," Doyle said.
Once operational, the Lorton Healthplex is scheduled to provide 24- hour emergency services; diagnostic imaging; lab services; a proposed ambulatory surgery center; health education; and primary and specialist physician offices.
Physician recruitment at Mt. Vernon Hospital is also progressing, according to Doyle. "Two new surgeons will be joining the hospital at the end of the summer and in early fall," she told Task Force members.
Dr. Sydney S. Guo, a vascular surgeon from Cardiac, Vascular and Thoracic Surgery Associates, P.C., joined the hospital in May. Nine primary care physicians who will open their practices "in strategic locations within the hospital's primary and secondary service area" are being actively recruited, according to Doyle's report.