DANVILLE, Va. (WSET) - The emergency department at SOVAH Health hasn't been remodeled in 22 years according to one Danville doctor. So now he's petitioning the owners of the hospital, LifePoint, to renovate.
Dr. Gary Miller says he has already sent more than 500 signatures to LifePoint, and he says could get more if he needs to.
"I go to the hospital every morning." Miller says he knows SOVAH Health well. "This is not about the people that work there. They're doing an outstanding job."
In his petition, Miller says the emergency department is suffering. They only have 21 beds in the emergency department, but are seeing 8.5 percent more patients this year. Miller says that's not enough. "The facility itself is outdated. It was last remodeled in 1995."
Miller explains in the last 10 years, there have been plans at least twice to update it, but then it wasn't in the budget. He says a capital improvement project like this would have to go through the hospital's owner, LifePoint. "I realize they have 70 hospitals. They prioritize, but we keep getting passed over and it's just gotten to the critical point."
In addition to more beds, Miller suggests a better layout, and bigger rooms. Another issue, is the ambulance drop off.
"I was working last night myself and we had three in the street at one time," Robbie Woodall, the chief of the Danville Life Saving Crew says.
"They don't have room to get and deliver their patients," Miller explains.
Only three ambulances can fit in the parking lot for ambulances. Woodall says it's a safety issue for families, patients, and rescue crews. "There's alot of people using the emergency room, actually about 40 times per day so that's a lot of traffic through in here."
Miller is willing to start with the basics. "It's really depressing. Even paint would help!"
With the help of the petition, Miller hopes LifePoint notices and puts SOVAH Health at the top of their list to help renovate. "I tried to get people in the county, the city, and the upper part of North Carolina, that would use the emergency room. It was pretty universal."
In addition to the signatures Miller collected, he also created an online petition for people to sign. Again, Miller stresses this is directed at Lifepoint, not SOVAH.
We did reach out to SOVAH. They sent us the following statement.
"Sovah Health, Danville has been part of our community for over 134 years, caring for generations of families. This long history means that there are areas of our facility that are older, such as the Emergency Department. However, aging walls are not representative of the innovative technology within a hospital or the quality care it provides. Our team is keenly aware of the healthcare needs of our community and is continually evaluating our services to ensure we are meeting those needs. We work closely with LifePoint Health, which we have been a part of for more than a decade, to invest in the expansion of services and care that will have the greatest impact on the people in our community."
SOVAH's statement goes on to say, "For example, LifePoint and Sovah Health - Danville have invested more than $11 million in our facility in the last year alone. As it relates to emergency care, as Danville’s only Emergency Department, Sovah Health takes our responsibility for ensuring the health and wellbeing of our community very seriously. We are physicians, nurses and staff who are proud to provide care and support for our neighbors, friends and families during their greatest time of need, and the quality and service delivered in our Emergency Department is among the best in the country. We appreciate the support the community has for our hospital, and we assure the community that we will continue to partner with LifePoint evaluating ways to improve our facility as we continue to work to achieve our mission of Making Communities Healthier."
We also reached out to Lifepoint. They told us, "LifePoint Health is honored to be part of the Danville community. For more than a decade, we have worked with the Sovah Health – Danville team to invest in their facility and support their ability to provide high-quality care close to home. We are dedicated to continuing to help the hospital expand and enhance its services in a way that best meets the community’s needs. We are aware of the recent petition regarding the hospital’s Emergency Department and will evaluate appropriately. Providing high quality care close to home is our top priority, and we are confident in the emergency care and service that the Sovah Health – Danville team is delivering.”