Growing Population Increases Work for Sussex Medical Community
BETHANY BEACH, Del. - First responders in Sussex County finally get a break after a busy summer season.
The Bethany Beach Fire Department responded to 164 emergency medical services calls in August, a roughly 30 percent increase from the same time last year, said chief Brian Martin.
"We're seeing more people visiting the area but we're also getting more people that are moving into the area," Martin said. "I think those are the two big reasons for the call increase."
Bethany started its own EMS service about four years to handle the growing population. The service was previously provided by first responders in nearby Millville. Martin said there were several times over the summer where ambulances from both companies were out on separate calls.
Census numbers show Sussex County's population grew by more than 25 percent from 2000 to 2010.
Beebe Medical Center is now considering opening new health campuses in Georgetown and Millville. Vice president for external affairs Alex Sydnor said the Georgetown location is likely to open first.
"We're able to do that because we don't own the land," Sydnor said. "Someone else is going to build the building. We will merely be the tenant."
The hospital recently reaffirmed its commitment to opening a health campus in Millville, though the project has been on hold because of funding, Sydnor said. A new building in Millville could cost up to $25 million, though the hospital already owns the land.
"If there are any barriers for transportation, or really any barriers - cost or anything - the people are less likely to seek out the care they need," Sydnor said. "If we can make it accessible, perhaps we can help people stay a little healthier."
Martin said he expects the population increase to continue. The fire department will likely need a third ambulance in the near future to handle growing demand, Martin said.
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