SRMC officials in ‘fact-finding’ mode as it scouts county for facility

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: April 7, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.

More details on hospital’s Dinwiddie plans expected by end of year

DINWIDDIE – Southside Regional Medical Center’s leadership says they are actively engaged in fact-finding and research when it comes to recently discussed plans to possibly some form of SRMC-operated medical facility in Dinwiddie County while offering a bit more information on what that facility could be, should it move forward.

In an interview, SRMC Chief Executive Officer Trent Nobles said no decisions have been made as of this stage but they are looking at plenty of data and trends in the county as it seeks to provide more services to Dinwiddie and other communities serviced by Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg.

During the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors’ regular meeting in February, hospital representatives confirmed that SRMC is looking to expand into the county, saying during their report to supervisors that “a couple of sites” have been discussed but, the property fronting against U.S. Route 1 near the new ALDI regional headquarters and distribution center has been looked heavily for a facility. Much of that property was rezoned in 2018 to allow for commercial development in and around the lucrative U.S. Route 1/460/Interstate 85 corridors, which has been seeing growth dating back a number of years following the opening of Amazon’s fulfillment center along U.S. Route 460. 

At that time, the hospital representative told supervisors, while a final decision hadn’t been made, they anticipated whatever facility is built would be “some type of intermediate care, whether that is an urgent care facility or a free-standing center,” something that was reiterated by Nobles last week.

“We are not looking to build a hospital or an emergency room but we see a need for primary care/urgent care potentially in Dinwiddie as the county is growing with a lot of new employers coming into town, such as Amazon, Walmart, and ALDI,” Nobles said. “Those employers are bringing in more people to the county and we feel like there is probably a lack of primary care so we are exploring what that looks like.”

Currently, Sutherland Family Practice along Claiborne Road and Dinwiddie Medical Center, part of the Southern Dominion Health System, offer primary care medical services to Dinwiddie County. Even with the quality services being provided by the local medical facilities, lack of access to medical services remains one of the top concerns for county residents and one of the main factors Dinwiddie struggles in as part of the annual county health rankings report provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Based on data shown to county leaders in February, prior to the updated figures being made available, while the county was ranked 84th out of 133 total Virginia communities in health outcomes, which ranks how healthy a county is, the county ranked 104th out of 133 in health factors, which represents the influences on health in a county, including the access to and the quality of medical care in a community.

Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg. Hospital representatives said they are still gathering information that could shape what kind of services they may offer in Dinwiddie County.

According to the data provided by the RWJ Foundation at that time, the ratio between the number primary care physicians and the number of residents is significant. According to the county’s rankings at the time, the ratio was 6,960 people for every single primary care physician in Dinwiddie County, which is far above the statewide ratio of 1,320-to-1 and the ratio of the nation’s top performers of 1,030-to-1. 

That data, along with statistics detailing the county’s preventable hospital stays, diabetes monitoring, and mammography screenings, gave Dinwiddie a clinical care ranking of 124 out of 133, with 133 being the worst rank. 

With this and other information, Nobles and hospital staff are looking to see what service delivery by the hospital could look like in the county as part of their efforts to keep people in the area and reduce the number of individuals traveling to Richmond for treatments.

“We are looking at what the overall population growth of Dinwiddie is and what do they have now,” he explained. “It is about supply and demand; how many people live there, what is the current supply of physicians, is there a demand for more? That is what we are in the process of doing.”

To that end, Nobles said he believes something like a primary or urgent care facility would be a better option for the county as opposed to something like what the hospital opened in Colonial Heights at the Southside Emergency Care Center, which is a 24/7 emergency room that essentially acts as an extension of their main hospital operations in Petersburg.

“Typically, you would rather have an urgent care [facility], that way patients who have lower issues, instead of utilizing an emergency room, which could take longer, they can go to an urgent care [facility] where they could get faster treatment,” he said, noting an urgent care center would operate more closely with a primary care facility but would likely have extended hours and be open for a day during the weekend. 

Efforts like this and recent additions and hirings are part of the hospital’s goal to keep people closer to their communities and allow them to have procedures and treatments closer to home at Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg, which, particularly in rural area, transportation can be a barrier to some receiving adequate medical care. 

“Those different specialties that went out to Richmond, which is 25-30 minutes away, we tried to add those services here so people don’t have to drive as far because obviously transportation can be an issue and people want to stay where they are,” Nobles said. “You have a patient who lives in Dinwiddie or down in Emporia, getting to Richmond can be an hour drive. We want to provide those services here.”

As for this concept for Dinwiddie, he said they are still engaging with county leaders to gather more data as they develop a primary care plan for the county and surrounding areas while providing a general timetable of year-end for when they should have a better idea of their plans for Dinwiddie.

“If an industry is bringing in 600 or 2,000 employees, then your expectation is that they are going to live nearby and they are going to need healthcare,” Nobles said. “We want to make sure when that happens, we are not retroactive, we are proactive so, an influx of new citizens come in and we don’t have what they need.”

“We hope to have answers sooner than later but, if everything works out and the needs are there, we will provide an urgent care or primary care facility in Dinwiddie County,” SRMC’s CEO closed. 

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