WENDELL, N.C. — Health care is not immune from tough economic times.
Raleigh-based WakeMed has decided to hold off indefinitely on building a new hospital in Wendell, citing a sluggish stock markets and home sales.
The facility, with its 12-bed emergency department, imaging center and laboratory, is supposed to be one of the anchors in the 4,000-home Wendell Falls housing development that is expected to transform the town.
Groundbreaking on the hospital had been expected by the end of the year.
"We really need rooftops, and so with that project being delayed and with the economy being such that it is, we made the decision to kind of sit back a little while," Carolyn Knaup, vice president of ambulatory services at WakeMed, said Wednesday.
Greg Ferguson, the subdivision's developer, says plans are still on schedule and the first homes are expected to be finished by early next year.
But Knaup says there are also other concerns in the economy that are delaying the project – "borrowing money, and bond money is a lot more difficult to get now."
Wendell Town Manager David Bone says the town understands the hospital's situation and is hopeful the medical center will eventually move forward.
Meanwhile, he says, this area is still growing.
"We've got more interest in development in eastern Wake County and Wendell than we've ever had before," Bone said.
Knaup says WakeMed is holding onto its option to buy a reserved piece of land on that site.
"We are still very committed to being in that community. We're just taking a little step back," she said.