Patrick County officials are expressing excitement and hope as construction on Foresight Hospital of Patrick County seems to have picked back up.
This comes after weeks of relative inactivity at the hospital’s Stuart location. In its most recent update, Foresight Health, the hospital’s Chicago-based parent company, details the work being done at the site but has not given a new timeline for completion.
“Currently, we have crews working on the interior of the hospital,” according to a message from Foresight President and CEO Sameer Suhail. “Asbestos removal and other necessary facility updates are required to bring the building up to code. We are continuing to work with contractors and architects to ensure this facility is in the best condition to serve Stuart and the rest of Patrick County.”
Under Foresight’s plans, the hospital will be a critical care hospital; such facilities provide specialty care typically for chronic and other serious illnesses.
Foresight’s plan to reopen the hospital formerly known as Pioneer Hospital of Patrick County and expand the kinds of care provided became public in April 2022.
Pioneer Hospital closed in 2017 after eight years in operation. Foresight announced it would reopen the hospital in the first quarter of 2023. While Foresight officials have remained tight-lipped about the failed timeline, local officials have speculated that the delays were caused at least in part by red tape relating to construction and other factors.
In spite of this, Foresight last year began hiring for some positions. When the facility is completed, the company expects to employ between 200 and 300 people.
The state earlier this year awarded the facility a Certificate of Public Need for a psychiatric and substance abuse unit.
“This is great news for members of the community who require these critically important treatments,” Suhail said.
The units came about from gauging the health needs of the Patrick County community, according to both Suhail and Patrick County Supervisor Doug Perry.
“They are talking about doing assessments and seeing what is needed in the area,” Perry said.
He said he and others in the community are glad to see physical proof of progress.
“They got kind of a slow start,” Perry said. “But that’s life.”
Perry’s sentiments matched the consensus among his fellow supervisors, each of whom said that seeing construction activity helps convince the public that the hospital revitalization is not just a pipe dream.
“I continue to be hopeful and confident that Patrick County will have an ER,” said Supervisor Denise Stirewalt.
Supervisor Brandon Simmons agreed.
“It makes me feel a lot more hopeful,” Simmons said. “I hope to see a lot more of that and, as far as I know, everything is still a go.”
Since early this year, when Foresight failed to meet its earlier opening projection, Perry says that he and other supervisors have been kept updated on the project by hospital officials. Perry said that ultimately, regardless of the difficulties of setting it up, having a hospital in Stuart will have a significant impact on the community.
“I can see Stuart becoming a small medical community in 10 to 15 years,” Perry said, adding that Patrick residents often have to cross state borders for comprehensive medical coverage. “I kind of see Stuart becoming a mini-Winston-Salem. I’m very hopeful and excited.”