A Week In Business – June 25, 2021

Hospital Offers New Program

BERLIN – Atlantic General Hospital has launched an integrated behavioral health program designed to reduce barriers to needed counseling and treatment for its health system’s primary care patients.

The medical community has come to recognize the strong link between mental wellbeing and physical health and has begun to correct a decades-old inclination to treat behavioral health – or the emotions, biology and behaviors that affect one’s wellbeing – as an afterthought.

Yet, significant gaps in care remain. According to the American Hospital Association, more than 40% of the roughly 44.7 million Americans living with mental illness receive behavioral health care each year.

Through the use of telehealth technology, the integrated behavioral health program at Atlantic General allows patients to receive the care they need right in their primary care provider’s office. Embedding this service in the primary care office allows providers to refer patients with an acute behavioral health concern for care same-day. It also makes it easier for individuals who live in southern Worcester County or in Sussex County, Del., to get the care they need without additional travel to Berlin, where the behavioral health center is located.

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Any patient of an Atlantic General Health System primary care provider is eligible to receive behavioral health services via video visit.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for patients to receive the behavioral health care they need,” said Diane Skolka, who is a board certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner with Atlantic General and the dedicated provider for this service. “Patients can speak to their primary care provider for a referral, or simply call Atlantic General Behavioral Health Center to set up their first appointment.”

Counseling services and medication management are available. Patients can call 410-641-3340 to schedule an initial consultation by video.

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OPA’s PPP Forgiven

BERLIN — General Manager John Viola announced on Wednesday night that the $1.143 million in federal assistance received through the Paycheck Protection Program tied to COVID-19 relief has officially been forgiven.

Ocean Pines first announced it had received the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding in April 2020.

Viola said Ocean Pines submitted paperwork through Bank of Ocean City in March of 2021 to have the loan converted to a grant. That paperwork was then sent to the Small Business Administration, which had 90 days to respond.

“Bank of Ocean City contacted me the other day [and] told me that they had received in their system that we had received forgiveness,” Viola said.

He added that Finance Director Steve Phillips also received an official letter of forgiveness from the Small Business Administration.

“So, the PPP has been forgiven,” Viola said.

Viola said the Association accounted for the funds as revenue, which was then applied to payroll as required.

“All the PPP money was used for payroll,” he said. “Obviously, [the Small Business Administration] checked it. They asked us for information [and] we gave them everything. Every dollar of the PPP money was used for payroll, which was the whole idea of the program. We adhered to that 100%.”

Unaudited results for fiscal year 2020-2021, also announced by Viola on Wednesday, show a net operating profit of about $1.275 million.

Viola said the overage would “roll over” into retained earnings, with some of that wiping out prior operating deficits. He said additional funds could be put into reserve accounts including roads, but added “that’s for us to discuss” with the Board of Directors and Budget and Finance Committee.

“We do have a surplus, but the surplus was because we cut costs,” Viola said. “There were cutbacks, we couldn’t do certain things because of COVID … those are the reasons why we had the surplus.”

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Bethany Hotels Sold

OCEAN CITY — Blue Water Development, a real estate investment and outdoor hospitality management company, recently announced the sale of the only two hotels in Bethany Beach, Del. The 112-room Bethany Beach Ocean Suites, Residence Inn by Marriott and the 100-room Holiday Inn Express Bethany Beach were purchased by a privately-held real estate investment firm.

Blue Water built the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites in 2015 as the first, and only, hotel on the resort’s Boardwalk.

“Our focus is creating standout accommodations for our guests, and we believed that navigating the complex process of a boardwalk build in one of the most desirable East Coast beach destinations would be well worth the effort – and we were right,” said Blue Water CEO Todd Burbage. “At Blue Water, we don’t shy away from complicated projects. The stellar performance of the Ocean Suites is just one example of our ongoing persistence and determination to create unique, high-end family-friendly assets in markets with high barriers to entry. We look forward to pursuing similar opportunities and know that we’re leaving this special project in good hands.”

Blue Water acquired the Holiday Inn Express in 2018. Offering an outdoor pool, fitness center, and ample meeting space, this is the only other hotel in the immediate area and is just two blocks from the beach.