More than 200 Bayhealth supporters gathered at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino to help raise funds for both Kent General and Milford Memorial hospitals during the 8th annual Black & White Gala Saturday night.

More than 200 Bayhealth supporters gathered at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino to help raise funds for both Kent General and Milford Memorial hospitals during the 8th annual Black & White Gala Saturday night.

As Bayhealth nears the end of its Phase II fundraising for the Kent General expansion and the rebuild of Milford Memorial Hospital, Bayhealth continues to focus on community fundraising to meet the current phase’s $12 million goal.

With ticket sales and auctions, approximately $29,000 was raised during Saturday night’s event, which will be split evenly between the Milford Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and the Junior Board of Kent General Hospital.

The Milford Memorial Hospital Auxiliary has also contributed $300,000 of its $750,000 five-year commitment to the capital campaign.

Former auxiliary president Suzanne Donovan said as Milford’s population grows and organizations work on the downtown area, the need for an updated hospital increases.

“It’s time for some changes,” she said. While there have been small renovations periodically, Donovan said serious renovations have not occurred since the 1990s.

“Milford has expanded tremendously in the last 20 years,” Donovan said. “Everything is growing and it’s expanding and when you have growth like that, you need to have healthcare that matches it.”

So far, approximately $1.5 million has been dedicated specifically to the Milford replacement facility, according to Bayhealth Foundation President Lindsay Rhodenbaugh.

Events like the gala are just a smaller step in a larger fundraising goal, as the current estimated cost of a replacement facility for Milford Memorial Hospital is $250 to $300 million, Rhodenbaugh said.

“It’s a moving target, it’s more than we anticipated three or four years ago because prices escalate,” Rhodenbaugh explained.

Rhodenbaugh said that because the facility is so old, that renovations and tweaks simply aren’t sufficient anymore, and an updated facility is necessary to keep up with advancing medical services, equipment and needs.

“The rebuild in Milford is critically important as a long-term commitment to the Milford community and south central Delaware,” he said. “We have a fine facility, but we recognize that this community needs a world-class medical facility that will serve the Milford community for the next couple generations.”

While Rhodenbaugh said the hospital is hoping to reveal more specifics this spring as architects finalize their plans, he expects a portion of construction to begin at the end of Fiscal Year 2015, which ends June 30, 2015.

“We have the sense that the city of Milford is very excited to have this project begin and unveil as soon as possible,” he said. “It’s reasonable to believe we’ll be through planning to a point where by the end of Fiscal Year 2015, we’ll put a shovel in the ground. We continue to believe we’ll be far enough along in the planning process to make some exciting announcements and unveiling by late spring.”