Patrick County economic development leader excited about hospital plans

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STUART, Va. (WDBJ) – Patrick County’s director of economic development says he’s been blown away by plans to restore the county’s former hospital.

Sean Adkins, who has been on the job for about seven months, traveled to Chicago two weeks ago to visit the team of people working to restore wards at the hospital.

As WDBJ7 first reported in April, a company called Foresight HS Property Holdings – Blue Ridge, LLC purchased the property. The deed was previously held by Patrick County Real Estate, LLC. The hospital has been closed since 2017, after the previous owner filed for bankruptcy in 2016.

Patrick County Administrator Geri Hazelwood told WDBJ7 in an email in April that she was very excited about the new owner and looked forward to hearing more about their plans for Patrick County. Patrick.

Hazelwood added the intro to HB 1305 by Delegate Wren Williams (R-9), and its subsequent enactment by Governor Glenn Youngkin, made purchasing the building attractive to new owners.

This legislation allows the hospital to reopen without having to request new certificates of need.

“The COP [Certificate of Public Need] and the licensing process in Virginia takes, you know, many months or even years,” Williams told WDBJ7 in an interview Friday afternoon. “There was a NICU center in Salem that took several years to get approved. So if we didn’t have my legislation, then it would take a lot longer for a supplier to be up and running and therefore profitable. »

WDBJ7 had difficulty finding contact details for the new owners online. Delegate Williams said he spoke with the new owners often and helped us get in touch.

Dr. Sameer Suhail told WDBJ7 that he is 100% committed to getting the hospital back up and running and intends to have the emergency department back online within a year.

“Me as a person in general, I love a challenge and I love making a difference,” he told us on Zoom, noting his focus on supporting underserved communities.

Adkins called the hospital purchase the best news in Patrick County in many years. He said he first learned of Foresight’s interest in the building in February this year and worked hard to keep it a secret until the deed was officially handed over.

He said that in Chicago he learned that Foresight had planned its approach to the hospital in phases, making the ER phase the first.

“It worked like the best of times with a motivated and capable group,” Adkins said.

As for the group’s ambitious schedule, Adkins thinks it’s possible thanks to Foresight’s track record and Williams’ legislation.

“Apart from the real estate aspect, the licensing side of this deal was always going to be the biggest hurdle,” he said. “So for that to have been resolved by this bill from Delegate Williams, that’s why that – I think we can open it by the end of the year, phase one. It won’t be the full hospital yet, but the emergency room, I’m sure it can be open by the end of the year.

Dr. Suhail said he has around 15 years of experience in the healthcare field and owns several businesses, some of which appear to have come under scrutiny in recent years.

According to a report 2021 by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago’s Loretto Hospital and its former executives were under investigation for improper COVID vaccinations. This review also revealed links between the now resigned chief financial officer, Dr Anosh Ahmed, and Suhail, who were business partners. Reports from the Tribune and other publications showed the hospital increased the number of contracts it had with Suhail when Dr Ahmed took over. Loretto contracted four Suhail-related companies, three of which were Loretto’s highest-paid independent contractors.

“You know, look, no legal action has been taken or anything unethical from my companies,” Dr. Suhail said when asked about the reports. “The investigation was aimed more at the hospital itself. I definitely condemn if there is any wrongdoing. But I was not involved, or any of my companies were involved, in any of these relationships or were unethical inside the hospital. I have never been an administrator inside the hospital. I have always been an independent contractor.

When asked if the reports involving Suhail were about Adkins or anyone at the county level, Adkins said there were no concerns.

“And in my dealings with them and working with them, they’ve been just driven and friendly and focused on that,” he explained. “So there’s been no hesitation or reason to doubt or not be excited about what they’re doing.”

During his two-day trip to Chicago, Adkins said he spent time with the entire team in a conference room to review their plans.

“[We] We kind of went from A to Z as much as we could, going from everything to layout, bed spacing, number of beds and that’s where his team really blew my mind,” said he declared.

Adkins said Dr. Suhail and his team also plan to create a hospital advisory board with local stakeholders. Anyone interested in knowing more can contact the Adkins office.

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