Local News

State awards new hospital beds to WakeMed

Posted January 28, 2009 3:15 p.m. EST
Updated January 28, 2009 6:23 p.m. EST

— WakeMed on Wednesday won a three-way battle for 41 new hospital beds in Wake County.

State regulators determined last year that, based on growth projections, the county needed another 41 hospital beds. On Wednesday, the state Division of Health Service Regulation approved WakeMed's application to put those beds in a proposed women's hospital at its North Healthplex facility off Durant and Falls of Neuse roads in north Raleigh.

In giving the beds to WakeMed, regulators denied applications by Rex Healthcare and Novant Healthcare. Novant wanted to build a $110 million, 46-bed facility in Holly Springs, while Rex wanted to add to its obstetrics and surgical-patient beds.

WakeMed plans to add the 41 beds to 20 already approved for the 72,300-square-foot women's hospital. Construction on the $34 million project is expected to begin in February 2010 and be completed by October 2011.

Rex President David Strong said the hospital plans to appeal the state's decision.

"It’s difficult to understand WakeMed’s serious need for these 41 beds since the 60 beds they were awarded in 2005 have not been put into service," Strong said in a statement.

“Every day, enough babies are born at our hospital to fill an elementary school class, and we do not see this growth subsiding. At the same time, we are seeing more patients throughout our hospital, making the need for beds at our hospital vitally important," he said.

In a statement issued after Strong spoke, WakeMed said the 60 beds to which he referred are going into its main hospital in a construction project that is complicated and is scheduled to be done next January.

There was no immediate reaction to the state action from Novant or from Holly Springs officials, who had lobbied for a new hospital in southern Wake County since last summer.

Regulators also approved Rex's joint application with Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic for four orthopedic operating rooms in a new outpatient surgery center, while denying WakeMed's applications to add two operating rooms at its North Healthplex facility and two at WakeMed Cary Hospital.

WakeMed President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Atkinson said the hospital hasn't decided whether to appeal that decision.