Planning Commission OKs hospital’s site plan

FRONT ROYAL – Valley Health has moved a step closer to commencing construction on the new Warren Memorial Hospital.

The Front Royal Planning Commission at its regular Wednesday meeting unanimously approved a site plan for phase one of the new hospital.

Planning Director Jeremy Camp explained that the site plan was approved with the condition that Valley Health address several review comments from town staff. He noted that one of those comments calls for  Valley Health to install a pressure reducing valve in lieu of a pump station.

Phase one of construction will include the hospital and a medical office building, which will be a combined 175,000 square feet.

If all goes as planned, Valley Health officials have stated that work could begin at the site off Leach Run Parkway sometime this summer. Mark Baker, Valley Health vice president of facilities management, has said that the hospital would open in late 2020 as a best-case scenario.

The hospital and its associated facilities will span about 28 acres on a 147-acre parcel across from Warren County Middle School. Part of that land will be conserved under an open-space easement.

Plans call for a three-story facility that will include 36 private rooms, three operating rooms, a cardiac catheterization lab and 18 emergency rooms. It will also house a 12-bed critical care step down unit, which is another name for a critical care unit.

The facility will not include a birthing or obstetrics unit, which has irked a group of concerned citizens. That group – Birth Local – has repeatedly shown up at town and county meetings, urging officials not to approve Valley Health’s rezoning requests.

Birth Local members have provided a laundry list of reasons regarding why the decision to not include a birthing unit could have negative impacts on the health of mothers and children.

Valley Health officials, however, have maintained that mothers can receive adequate care at nearby facilities such as Winchester Medical Center. They have also noted that the decision to not include a birthing unit was not made rashly and that the new hospital will offer prenatal care.

The new hospital will replace the North Shenandoah Avenue facility that is about 150,000 square-feet and was constructed in 1951.