Collage of Sussex Campus Moving

Moving a hospital

Monday, July 1, 2019 |
Following years of planning, building and preparation, the Bayhealth Hospital, Sussex Campus opened to patients on Feb. 5, 2019. The Bayhealth Outpatient Center, Sussex Campus quickly followed on Feb. 6, 2019. In addition to opening the new campus, leaders at Bayhealth also had to plan for the patient move from Bayhealth Milford Memorial to the new location. These plans were carefully coordinated by hundreds of employees who all took part in the planning and implementation.

Bayhealth first announced plans to build the new health campus in late 2014. At the announcement, Bayhealth’s President and CEO Terry Murphy, FACHE, explained that “healthcare is changing, and at the same time so are the needs of our community. After evaluating the direction of healthcare and conducting detailed research, we realized the community needs more than a hospital.”

The new location was selected because of its visibility, access to Route 1 and space to grow.

“From the beginning, we shared our vision that the parcel of land that was purchased would eventually turn into a thriving healthcare campus,” said Vice President of Operations/Administrator, Bayhealth Sussex Campus Michael Ashton, FACHE. “We challenged the architects and construction partners to show us what this would look like built out to ensure this would be a successful project.”

The project involved careful coordination on many levels that involved staff and provider input throughout the process. Approximately 500 employees and medical staff members took part in designing the hospital and outpatient center. These team members also developed new work flows that would be needed in the new facility.

The community was also consulted. More than 300 community members took part in the “cardboard city” tours. These tours allowed community members to walk through cardboard mock-ups of key areas that would be built in the hospital. There were also town halls in various communities and a furniture demonstration. The community continued to support Bayhealth during the open house events once the hospital was built. More than 8,000 people toured the new facility.

“Our guiding principles drove the project,” said Ashton. “Everything we did was viewed through the lens of the patient experience. Second to that, we focused on the provider and staff experience. The team did a phenomenal job and took careful consideration at each stage of the process.”

The preparation for the patient move involved staff from nearly every department in the organization. A comprehensive patient move plan was developed with each department or service area responsible for specific components of the move.

“Planning for the patient move created an incredible opportunity to collaborate,” said Senior Director of Patient Care Services, Sussex Campus and Magnet Program Director Andrea Holecek, EdD, MSN, MBA, RN, NE-BC, FACHE. “In addition to our plans on paper, we also practiced in real time. We held a full-scale physical mock move to ensure every system and every individual plan was ready. We were able to gather feedback from this drill that helped shape the final plan and our approach to the patient and family experience.”

From infrastructure to patient care to food preparation, all team members from all facets of the health system played a pivotal role in the patient move process. In total, more than 60 patients were transported from Bayhealth Milford Memorial to the Bayhealth Hospital, Sussex Campus on move day.

“The process of planning the patient move was the most incredible teamwork I’ve ever seen,” said Holecek. “Our team members gave 110 percent to ensure the patient move was a success.”

In addition to the patient move, there were also dozens of other individual and departmental moves to be considered throughout the two-week period surrounding the opening. “Everyone knew we had a responsibility to this community and to our patients,” said Ashton. “It was our responsibility and our mission to complete the patient move in the safest, best way for everyone.”

Most team members involved in the move describe the process as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The collaboration and coordination among different departments and team members were on full display throughout the planning and implementation of the moves.

“We changed healthcare delivery in southern Delaware,” said Holecek. “What can compare? It’s indescribable to be part of that achievement.”

Want to take a virtual tour of the new Bayhealth Sussex Campus? Visit to take the tour and learn more.

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