Delaware Public Media

Sussex County residents embrace Beebe Healthcare's planned Millville expansion

Jun 18, 2018

Beebe Healthcare expects to break ground on a new facility in Millville later this year, bringing services to the South Coastal area that some residents say they’ve been waiting for.

Beebe Healthcare already has a small outpatient facility on Route 26 in Millville, but the planned Millville campus will have a full cancer center and emergency services.

Beebe Executive Director of Oncology Services Barry Hamp says about 25 percent of the patients that come to Beebe’s Rehoboth cancer center are from Southern Sussex County. And it can be a long drive for those seeking treatment.

“Many of the treatments these patients will be asked to undergo are weeks long, so it’s an everyday thing, and it’s really quite a burden,” Hamp said.

Hamp and Alex Sydnor, Beebe’s Vice President for External Affairs, say the planned South Coastal campus is needed to accommodate growth in the 65-and-over population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between July 2016 to July 2017, Sussex County’s population jumped from 220,000 to 225,000. That trend is expected to continue. 

Sussex County sees more than 1,700 new cancer diagnoses every year, Sydnor said.

“As we age, we are at a higher risk of cancer,” Sydnor said. “Cancer care is something that very much is needed in this community.”

Beebe plans for its emergency department to have full diagnostic imaging and 24 exam and treatment rooms.

South Bethany resident Jerry Kappes says he applauds the South Coastal campus. His commute time to Beebe in Lewes is about 30 minutes.

“It can be very, very crowded because of the beach folks,” Kappes said. “Just having that opportunity to be able to go close by and get the services that you need, I think it’s very important.”

Kappes, 75, recalls a time where he injured his arm and drove the roughly half-hour to get to Beebe’s Lewes campus for emergency services to get it looked at.

“Being able to go somewhere and get there quickly, and with the age of the population here – people more likely to be needing health care – I think it’s going to be a tremendous benefit,” Kappes said.

Bethany Mayor Jack Gordon and his wife, Joan, called it "an enormous advantage and a comfort" to have an emergency facility and cancer center nearby.

Beebe is still waiting for final state approvals at the Delaware Health Resources Board’s July 26 meeting, but they expect to break ground in October 2018, with construction completed by January 2020.