City hospital seeks 14-bed expansion, citing demand and overcrowding is your source for free local news and information in Virginia Beach

(Courtesy Sentara Healthcare)
(Courtesy Sentara Healthcare)

A Virginia Beach hospital has asked the state to approve a $35 million, 14-bed expansion of its existing facility, citing high occupancy and overcrowding.

Sentara Princess Anne Hospital is seeking approval from the Virginia Department of Health to add 14 medical-surgical inpatient beds to its existing building, located at 2025 Glen Mitchell Dr. The proposed expansion would add two additional floors to the current structure, increasing the total beds from 160 to 174. During the first five months of 2016, the hospital’s medical-surgical occupancy rate was more than 88 percent, 8 percent higher than the state’s recommended occupancy rate of 80 percent, according to a release.

Still, state approval will not materialize overnight.

“It’s very early in the process,” Dale Gauding, a spokesperson for Sentara Healthcare, said in a phone interview.

Sentara Princess Anne opened in August 2011 with 120 medical-surgical beds, 24 obstetric beds and 16 beds in intensive care, according to the hospital’s application for a certificate of public need, filed on June 29, 2016. Since then, the hospital’s overall occupancy rate has risen from 73.6 percent in 2012 to 87.2 percent in 2015. The medical-surgical bed occupancy rate increased form 71.7 percent in 2012 to 88.6 percent in 2015, the application says.

Overcrowding is a particular concern in the emergency room, the highest volume emergency department in South Hampton Roads, the hospital told the health department. “The hospital frequently experiences crowded conditions,” the application says; when a bed is not available, the patient stays in the emergency department waiting for one. “That means the emergency department bed is not available for other emergency patients.”

In its application, the hospital targeted a March 2018 opening for the addition, with construction slated to last from December 2016 to February 2018.

But first there will be a public hearing, perhaps in early October, according to Gauding.

“We would hope to know by the end of the year whether we can proceed with this,” he said.


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Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post,, and Talking Points Memo. Her recent book, Just Another Southern Town: Mary Church Terrell and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Nation’s Capital, was shortlisted for the 2017 Mark Lynton History Prize. Her first book, The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, won the 2005 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.