Hospital Board, City Council Meet To Discuss Possible Broughton Road RelocationThe Salem Township Hospital Board has agreed to work with the Salem City Council on a traffic study of future needs of the hospital before a decision is made on the future of Broughton Street behind the hospital. Mayor John Raymer wanted the study, saying the city could not just say close the road. He wants to enter into the contract for the study at the next city council meeting on August 18th.
"We are hoping to get this study done in a month" said Raymer, "we think the engineer can sit with the council and the hospital board and come up with a solution...or a set of solutions."
Raymer has a preferable solution.
"I want a permanent fix. If there is any way to keep Broughton Road open and keep the hospital expansion online...we're looking for that [option]. If we can't get that one, I wan't to find the next best possibility" Raymer said.
But Hospital President Stephanie Hilton-Siebert says crossing the road and having to climb the steps before getting to the doors of the hospital is already jeopardizing some future programs.
"Maybe Dialysis will say six months, maybe it'll say a year, maybe it'll say ten years, but they're telling us up front that we need to address it. The specialty physicians that are coming in for IV's every day, they are also concerned about access" Hilton-Siebert said.
Hilton-Siebert says they also have an opportunity to begin offering services to crippled children...but it cannot proceed without changes in parking and access. She says the hospital will not be impacted by a delay of a few months, but anything longer than that will cause problems with finalization of the Phase II building expansion. Hilton-Siebert says they have no intentions to raise taxes to pay for any relocation of Broughton Road. She notes the expansion of use of the hospital has occurred rapidly and was not something they could plan for years ago.
A large crowd gathered for the joint meeting in the front lobby of the hospital. During the open forum, several area residents continued to push for Broughton Street to remain in its present location. Some blamed the hospital for creating their own problem. Several others expressed concern for safety issues and limiting future growth of the hospital, including the medical director of the Emergency Room Dr. Susan Zoochi and Hospitalist Dr. Jha who pushed for both sides to work for a consensus that would allow the hospital to grow and provide more services to area residents without having to travel out of town. Hospital Board Chair Dick Haney closed the open forum portion by saying doing nothing keeps the hospital the same and in today's world that is going backwards.
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