Update: State Regulators Favor Holy Cross Hospital Plan
Recommendation, which will be reviewed next month, calls for denying Shady Grove proposal.
The Maryland Health Care Commission released its recommendation choosing Germantown over Clarksburg for a new upcounty hospital.
The decision favors the Holy Cross Hospital proposal for a 93-bed hospital in Germantown, versus an 86-bed hospital in Clarksburg.
Marilyn Moon, chair of the Maryland Health Care Commission, wrote in the decision that:
"Holy Cross Hospital-Germantown proposal meets required review criteria and standards set forth in the State Health Plan and is superior to the Clarksburg Community Hospital proposal. The Holy Cross Hospital-Germantown proposal will improve the distribution of hospital beds within Montgomery County to meet future needs in a cost-effective manner without negatively impacting the existing health care delivery system."
County Council Member Craig Rice, who represents both areas, said while he's glad the council recognized the need for a hospital in the upcounty, a Germantown hospital would be a setback for Clarksburg, which is struggling to develop.
"It's nice to have an upcounty hospital, but it does promote the continual challenges we have in the upcounty," Rice said. Rice has previously voiced support for a hospital in Clarksburg. In a Dec. 8 interview, Rice said that Clarksburg is the area with the greatest need for development.
"Clarksburg, and I've seen this for the past four years representing the state delegation, unfortunately has kind of stalled when it comes to making sure that those basic infrastructure needs were there ..."
Rice added that there are still some unanswered questions about how a Germantown hospital would affect the Shady Grove Emergency Center, located in Germantown.
In her Dec. 16 recommendation, Moon wrote that the Germantown hospital, "because of its nearness to more densely populated areas," is more likely to reduce the travel time than the Clarksburg site would. She also cited Germantown's "more diverse population" as an advantage.
The Clarksburg hospital would hurt volume and bed occupancy at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital and Frederick Memorial Hospital, Moon wrote. She said the Clarksburg proposal didn't include "as complete an analysis of impact … as it could have."
Holy Cross has, in the meantime, been working on zoning questions so that once approvals go through, the Germantown hospital can open before the end of 2013.
"We've said for a long time that time is of the essence. In the next five years, the senior population of this county grows by a third," said Kevin J. Sexton, president & CEO of Holy Cross Hospital. "Also this is a great time to build. The construction industry has been depressed. ... We have the money. It's in the bank; it's ready to roll."
Catherine Matthews, director of the Upcounty Regional Services Center, said she's just glad to see the state recognizing the need for another hospital in the upcounty.
"Both are excellent hospitals. Both offer excellent reason why they wanted approval and im glad that the state is recommending another hospital for Montgomery County," Matthews said. When asked which proposal she supports, Matthews said: "That is not our decision to make; it's up to the state."
While the recommendation is written, William G. Robertson, president and CEO of Adventist HealthCare, said in a news release that it's not over yet.
"Let me assure the community that this flawed recommendation does nothing to stop our resolve to make sure Montgomery County's next hospital is in Clarksburg. We will urge the full Commission to study all of the relevant information in this case, which clearly shows that our vision is the strongest plan for the region and the only one that has the approval of the Montgomery County Planning Board," Robertson said in the release.
The decision will be considered by the full commission on its Jan.20 meeting. According to Pamela W. Barclay, director of the Center for Hospital Services Maryland Health Care Commission, the panel will hear testimony from both Holy Cross and Adventist HealthCare at the meeting.
The chairman of a state health care panel has recommended that Holy Cross Hospital be awarded approvals to build a 93-bed hospital in Germantown, according to a message on the panel's web site.
The recommendation calls for denying Adventist HealthCare's plan to build an 86-bed hospital in Clarksburg.
Holy Cross had been competing with Adventist to build a hospital in the upcounty. Holy Cross would build a $202 million facility on Montgomery College's Germantown campus.
Marilyn Moon, chair of the Maryland Health Care Commission, wrote the decision. It will be reviewed at the commission's Jan. 20 meeting, according to a news release.
Correction: The first version of this article incorrectly stated Holy Cross was competing with Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. Shady Grove's parent, Adventist HealthCare, sought to build the Clarksburg hospital.