If all goes as planned, area residents will have a new option for outpatient surgery this time next year, when Wilmington Health opens a multispecialty ambulatory surgical facility at 1305 Glen Meade Road.
The 20,000-square-foot facility will be licensed for one new operating room and three procedure rooms relocated from Wilmington Health’s main campus, just around the corner at Medical Center and Canterwood drives.
“It's designed to create more choice in the market,” said Chris Bunch, COO of Wilmington Health, which has more than 200 providers at 18 locations.
“A very, very high percentage of operating rooms and procedure rooms fall under a very small number of names,” Bunch said. “So this is just to create a little bit of choice and give patients somewhere else to go and is targeted at the decreases in the cost of care Wilmington Health continues to strive for.”
From general surgery to orthopedics, Wilmington Health has physicians who perform procedures that can be done in an outpatient facility. A handful perform outpatient procedures at other facilities, such as SurgCare. Wilmington Health currently devotes a portion of its main building to outpatient surgery, but it is limited in space and scope.
“We do a limited number of procedures in that area,” Bunch said. “But the construction of the main building won't support the types of procedures that we would like to do.
“We probably spent six months to a year looking at different options to keep [ambulatory surgery] at our main building or somewhere on that main campus, and we finally just determined we were trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.”
There still will be some procedures performed in the main building.
“Those will be procedures that are more suited for an office-based practice,” Bunch said.
But finding a suitable location to build on was not an easy feat in Wilmington’s tight real estate market.
“There's land, but it is remarkably, remarkably scarce,” Bunch said. “We've been very fortunate in that some of the people that we've worked with over the years have been willing to work with us on the parcel.
“For the ambulatory surgery center, we worked closely with Hill Rogers at Cameron Management and Bill and Bruce Cameron to get this piece of property separated from some of their other holdings around there.”
“We have cultivated a great relationship with Wilmington Health over the past 10 years,” said Rogers, broker in charge at Cameron Management. “As a result, we have helped them find new locations in a variety of ways, whether finding a site for a new development or helping them secure existing office space.”
Health-care services and facilities are part of Wilmington’s allure and a significant economic driver. But accommodating the soaring population is a challenge.
“Wilmington is a growing city and region, so as the population increases, the demand for medical services and health care from the population will continue to grow,” Rogers said. “Technology and regulation are ever-changing in health care. The need to serve the population conveniently and efficiently puts a premium on well located and well designed buildings.”
Of course, at the end of the day, facilities such as the new surgery center are about patient care, officials said.
Claude Jarrett is an orthopedic surgeon at Wilmington Health.
“The need for timely and cost-effective surgical intervention in our community continues to increase exponentially as our population grows,” Jarrett said. “The new ASC will allow patients and physicians additional options for comprehensive and state-of-the-art surgical care. We will be able to provide our patients with a modern, efficient and convenient outpatient treatment and recovery experience.”
Bunch said the project is in the final stages of planning and the permitting and technical-review process.
“I would very much like to be doing procedures by the end of the first quarter or early second quarter of 2022,” Bunch said.
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