At a public hearing last night in Haymarket, the Health Services Agency of Northern Virginia (HSANV) listened to two different proposals for building a hospital in Western Prince William County. Both Prince William Hospital System (which merged with Novant Health) and Sentara introduced their building proposals to the agency, and the public chimed in for their support on either site. The need for a hospital facility has increased over the years due to increased population growth (the senior population is also growing exponentially as well) in the Haymarket/Gainesville area. Currently, it takes anywhere between 30-45 minutes to get to Prince William Hospital in Manassas, which also adds to the urgency of this facility.
The proposals are based at different sites. Prince William Hospital System plans to build a hospital on the site of the Heathcote Medical Center, which is at the intersections of Routes 15 and 66. It is a site that has already been approved for zoning by Prince William County. This hospital is proposed to have 60 private rooms, 24-hour Emergency Department, Surgical Operating Rooms, ICU, and will bring 400 new jobs to the area.
Sentara Healthcare, a non-profit hospital company based in the Tidewater area, recently acquired Potomac Hospital in 2009, is planning to build their hospital right across the street from Jiffy Lube Live. The site would be located off of Wellington Road. The site has not been approved for zoning by Prince William County, as a previous housing development (Brookfield Homes) was going to build on the site, previously owned by Atlantic Research Corporation. This site was deemed unsafe due to the toxic chemicals left behind on the site by the Environmental Protection Agency. The costs for Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) remediation will exceed millions of dollars before zoning could be approved.
Aside from the environmental problems, there would be increased traffic issues. Being across the street from Jiffy Lube Live would pose many transportation woes, as traffic is often at a stand still due to concerts being held six months out of the year. Noise from the concerts will also pose problems, as the proposed site is planned to be built facing the loudest side of the concert venue. This would pose obstacles for surgeons focusing on procedures, in addition to detracting from the patient’s quality of care.
While both hospitals introduced their proposals to the committee, one thing did stick out. Sentara seemed ill prepared to answer the questions on why they selected the site. When asked how they would address the issues posed by the facility, the questions were left unanswered.
HSANV heard testimonies from community leaders, such as Del. Jackson Miller (R-50), Prince William County Sheriff Glendell Hill, Gainesville District Supervisor, John Stirrup, and Manassas Mayor Harry Parrish II. All of these leaders spoke in favor of the Prince William Hospital System site, as there is a great need for the expansion of a hospital that has committed itself to the Prince William County community for 45 years.
In an interview with CCC, Miller mentioned the quality services and commitment of Prince William Hospital System in the Haymarket community. Miller represents the 50th House District, which includes Prince William Hospital System’s main campus in Manassas.
When asked about the problems posed by the Sentara site, Miller mentioned three key issues that stand as a barrier in their site. First, with the close proximity of the Jiffy Lube Live site and a railroad line, traffic would be extremely problematic. The second issue is the noise pollution. As mentioned, the hospital site is on the loudest side of the venue, along with a nearby railroad line, would make noise levels almost unbearable. Prince William County Police receive numerous complaints from residents miles away from the venue due to the excessive noise. Lastly, the environmental quality in the area poses problems for the site. Miller mentioned that Sentara’s site has not been approved for zoning, and it is uncertain how much remediation would need to be done for the site to meet DEQ standards. It could cost millions of dollars.
When asked if the General Assembly plans to intervene if the Sentara site is approved, Miller mentioned that he has no interest in intervening with the commission’s approval process.
Miller reiterated his support for the Prince William Health System/Novant Health site, as it is located on a better site approved for zoning. Miller talked about Prince William Health System’s commitment to the Western Prince William County community, and it’s commitment to advancing quality services in the Haymarket area.
There will be future posts focusing on the developments of a future hospital site in Haymarket. While both Prince William/Novant and Sentara Healthcare offer the promises of new employment opportunities and providing quality health services, Prince William holds the advantage over the Hampton Roads-based Sentara. In the meantime, Alan Moore at Bearing Drift has another interesting perspective to add to the proposed hospital.