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By Delaware State News www.delawarestatenews.net

MILFORD — The old Milford Memorial Hospital won’t be vacant for much longer as its first tenant announced their big move to the facility in early August.

La Red Health Center, which initially opened a branch in Milford in 2015, will expand inside what is now called the Milford Wellness Village.

The announcement came just two months after Nationwide Healthcare Services finalized its purchase of the old hospital from Bayhealth who moved out of the building into their new hospital in February this year.

“We have really outgrown the building that we’re in. It was really serendipity that brought Nationwide and us together. We needed space, they had space to offer and we were able to construct something that worked for both of us and we’re really excited about moving in,” CEO Brian Olson said.

La Red currently operates near the former hospital from a standalone location at 1 Sussex Avenue. They plan to open in October this year. The Wellness Village plans on opening in October, as well, according to Nationwide Healthcare Services.

Mr. Olson joined other dignitaries for the big announcement from inside their soon-to-be location, all of whom talked about the partnership between La Red Health Services and Nationwide Healthcare Services as they work together to bring expanded health care options to people local to the Milford area.

Sen. Dave Wilson, R-Milford, said having good health requires access to medical professionals, resources and services that promotes wellness throughout the community. “Having the inclusion of La Red Health Center within the Milford Wellness Village will provide a path for many citizens and residents to achieve the benefit of good health. As individuals live longer, it is important to ensure access to a range of medical services. We have one life to live and just knowing that all of us have the ability to take advantage of affordable health care that is of high quality of health care will enhance the lives of every age,” Sen. Wilson said.

“When I look at the Milford area here and how it’s grown, and see what this center has, and I’m not going to tell you what year, but I started life right here in Milford Memorial Hospital. So, as you age out, I hope I don’t need the services, but if I do, it’s going to be comfortable knowing it’s going to be right here in the town where I started my life … this will be a great asset to the community,” he added.

Rep. Bryan Shupe said he, too, was born at the former Milford Memorial Hospital, although he joked it was quite some time after Senator Wilson was born at the facility.

Like many others in the area, he added that he has felt the impact of having the services of La Red in the community.

“About eight years when I was first starting my business in town and met my wife, we didn’t know where to go or how to afford just regular patient care throughout the year and we were patients here. We came to La Red because that was the place to go. That was the only place to be seen without healthcare here in Milford and southern Delaware and so, personally for my family, I want to thank La Red for giving us the care that we needed and I know that you will take that commitment fully on for the rest of the community,” he said.

It’s that kind of attitude toward healthcare that propels Nationwide Healthcare Services CEO Meir Gelley forward in Milford, knowing the importance of expanded health care options in the area.

“Our wellness village will become a key component of southern Delaware’s healthcare delivery system. That means serving all ages and meeting a wide spectrum of medical needs,” he emphasized during the announcement of La Red’s commitment inside their facility.

They will be joined by Nationwide Healthcare Services themselves who will bring the Polaris Skilled Nursing Center into the former hospital on the first and second floors of the building. Kidz, Ink Academy of Early Academics and Aquacare Physical Therapy will also be brought into the building as Nationwide works to fill the space they now own. Other tenants will be announced as they progress.

“Today, we have too many people in our state who don’t have access to primary health care, including dental. But we’re going to change that for a lot of people with this facility and that is a very, very good thing,” U.S. Sen. Tom Carper said at the announcement. “I’m grateful to everybody that is a part of this team. [There is] no I, the letter I, in the word team. This is a team. This is a great team. And a lot of people are going to be better for it here in Sussex County and in Kent County, as well.”