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Bon Secours, Sentara to Collaborate on Princess Anne Hospital

Proposed 200-bed facility would serve current and future community needs

Two of Virginia’s largest and most viable healthcare systems are joining forces to build a 200-bed hospital in Virginia Beach.

Sentara Healthcare (www.sentara.com) and Bon Secours Virginia (www.bonsecours.com) have agreed to collaborate in building Sentara Princess Anne Hospital, targeted to open in 2010.

The agreement calls for each hospital system to operate hospital-related services on their respective outpatient campuses, also located in Virginia Beach.

Sentara, which currently has a pending Certificate of Public Need (COPN) application with the [Virginia] State Health Commission, will resubmit its application next month to reflect the new proposal for a single 200-bed facility on the Sentara Princess Anne Health Campus, using inpatient beds relocated from Sentara Bayside and Bon Secours DePaul hospitals. The revised COPN application will seek approval for the joint ventured facility.

“The collaboration of two competing health systems is a major step forward and a tremendous benefit to the community,” said Peter J. Bernard, senior vice president and CEO of Bon Secours Virginia. “It is clear from both perspectives that serving the community is a priority.”

According to leadership of Bon Secours and Sentara, the hospitals are setting aside a long and costly appeal process in favor of collaborating on a shared, not-for-profit mission to meet the medical needs of the community. By collaborating, they are able to jointly provide inpatient care to southern Virginia Beach residents in a more cost effective and timely manner.

“This combined hospital is an efficient use of resources that allows us both to focus more attention on health care and avoid the uncertainty, expense and delay of continued appeals,” said Howard Kern, president and CEO of Sentara Healthcare. Also, a 200-bed hospital should be large enough to meet current community need.”

Last March, Virginia’s Deputy State Health Commissioner approved the application for a 120-bed Sentara Princess Anne Hospital and denied Bon Secours’ application for a 90-bed hospital on its nearby health campus. Ground was broken on Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in June with a projected opening date in late 2010. Both COPN decisions are currently under appeal in court.

“This arrangement serves our practical needs as well as the community’s need for a new hospital facility to serve southern Virginia Beach,” said Bernard. “This collaborative approach will help both health systems serve the community on a much more efficient timeline.”

Both Bon Secours and Sentara are not-for-profit health systems that provide significant charity care and community benefit in connection with their not-for-profit status.

“The current state of the economy was partly responsible for moving us in this direction,” said Kern. “We can do more good by working together in Virginia Beach than litigating COPN applications.”

The new not-for-profit joint venture between Bon Secours and Sentara would build and operate Sentara Princess Anne Hospital. An advisory panel with members from each institution would provide oversight of quality and safety, the hospital’s not-for-profit mission and its dedication to ethical standards.

If approved by the State Health Commissioner, the 200-bed complement would include 158 inpatient beds relocated from Sentara Bayside Hospital in Virginia Beach and 42 inpatient beds relocated from Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center in Norfolk. The new facility would continue to be called Sentara Princess Anne Hospital. Signage and community outreach efforts will reflect the collaboration between the entities.

The proposed joint venture includes Sentara Princess Anne Hospital and some ancillary services on the two outpatient campuses the companies operate within 3.4 miles of each other.

Ancillary services include diagnostic imaging and other hospital related outpatient services. Operating independently from the hospital joint venture would be the two companies’ ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and the comprehensive cancer center on the Sentara Princess Anne campus, which is operated by a separate partnership between Sentara and Virginia Oncology Associates.

In addition, Sentara will continue with plans to develop independent outpatient services on the Sentara Bayside campus after Sentara Princess Anne Hospital opens.

The proposed Princess Anne Hospital arrangement is new ground for Sentara Healthcare but not for Bon Secours. Since 1998, Bon Secours and Roper Health System have operated together in Charleston, South Carolina as Roper St. Francis Healthcare (www.ropersaintfrancis.com) with three hospitals and a host of integrated services.

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