More details are emerging on plans by New Hanover Regional Medical Center to build a new community hospital near the New Hanover County-Pender County line.
In a Certificate of Need filing by NHRMC with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, the Wilmington-based healthcare system is seeking approval of plans for a nearly $210 million hospital with a total of 66 beds that is projected to open in October 2024.
"The growth and aging of the New Hanover County population is driving the need for additional hospital services," said Andre Boyd, NHRMC's COO, in an email Monday. "The Scotts Hill hospital would offer care closer to home to all in the busy U.S. 17 corridor. These plans are exciting because we know that facilities like these will help us better care for our growing community long into the future.
"Our partnership with Novant Health, which is under regulatory review, will support these kinds of investments in improving access to healthcare. Novant Health has committed to investing more than $3 billion in growing and advancing NHRMC’s services in the area."
The application seeks permission for a facility with 66 acute-care beds that would include 36 new beds as well as 30 others to be relocated from NHRMC’s current Orthopedic Hospital campus.
“With the combined capacity constraints at NHRMC’s main campus on 17th Street in downtown Wilmington and planned closure of the nearby NHRMC Orthopedic Hospital, NHRMC is in need of expanded capacity at a new location to accommodate shifting patient volumes. This will free up capacity at NHRMC Main to continue serving higher acuity patients from across the county and region and ensure that there is no gap in care for patients historically served by the Orthopedic Hospital,” the filing says.
The new hospital will incorporate NHRMC’s free-standing Emergency Department-North located at 151 Scotts Hill Medical Drive, which the Certificate of Need application gives as the address for the proposed community hospital.
State figures cited in the filing by NHRMC show that between 2020 and 2025, projected growth among the 65 and older population is “significant,” at 3.1% overall for New Hanover and Pender counties.
The application projects that 70% of the acute-care beds at the new facility would serve patients from New Hanover County, 15% from Pender County, 5% from Brunswick County and the balance from Onslow, Columbus and other counties.
A 2018 study released by the University of Pennsylvania reported the average age of individuals undergoing hip replacement surgery to be just under 65 while the average age for knee replacement surgery stood at just under 66. Women continue to make up the majority of such patients, the study noted.
By 2030, primary total hip replacement is expected to grow by 171% nationally and primary total knee replacement is projected to grow by up to 189%, the study said.
The new community hospital would house eight operating rooms.
Of the 66 beds at the new hospital, 58 would be medical/surgical beds and eight would be ICU beds. Additionally, six observation beds would be available for short-term use.
More than $3 billion is earmarked for both routine capital expenses and strategic master plan projects like the Scotts Hill project under the final agreement reached by Novant Health, New Hanover County and NHRMC for the proposed purchase of the Wilmington-based healthcare system.
There is no indication when state officials may act on NHRMC’s Certificate of Need application.