Cape Fear Valley asks state for more hospital beds

The hospital is asking the Department of Health and Human Services to fund 34 new acute care beds.
April 1, 2014 3:56:33 PM PDT
Rapid population growth and misuse of the emergency room is behind a request to increase the number of beds at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.

The hospital is asking the Department of Health and Human Services to fund 34 new acute care beds to the main campus emergency department, located off Owen Drive in Fayetteville. This summer, hospital leaders will submit to the state what's called a Certificate of Need.

Cape Fear Valley currently has 490 beds, and estimates they will treat 135,000 patients in the Emergency Department this year.

That's basically twice as many ER patients as Duke University Hospital or WakeMed Raleigh, with half as many beds. According to CFVMC statistics, Duke will treat an estimated 70,000 emergency patients with 924 beds, and WakeMed will see 110,000 patients with 870 beds.

Over the past decade, Cumberland County has grown by 20,000 people. Combined with the issue most emergency rooms face--treating patients for non-emergency procedures--the hospital is left with a great need.

"You know (it's) the small things that happen like this increase in people from BRAC," noted Cumberland County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe of the rapid growth due to Fort Bragg. "We are a surrounding hospital. We take contiguous counties. Everybody. We take them. Culturally, we're trying to change that thought process of the ER being the standard place for care. It should be treated as it is -- an emergency room."

This week, Cape Fear Valley asked local business leaders to lend their support to the request by submitting letters to the state highlighting the concern and need. Those support letters are due to the hospital by April 30 in order to submit the CON application to DHHS by June.

It could take anywhere from six months to a year for the state to review the request. In the meantime, the hospital reports the state has approved 19 temporary bed increases.

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