Com­mis­sion­ers hear from Shore Re­gional Health

Kent County News - - NEWS - By LEANN SCHENKE lschenke@thekent­coun­

CH­ESTER­TOWN — Ken Kozel, pres­i­dent of Univer­sity of Mary­land Shore Re­gional Health, spoke on ef­forts to keep health care cur­rent on the East­ern Shore dur­ing the Kent County Com­mis­sion­ers’ meet­ing Tuesday.

“We have to drive down the cost. If the cost keeps grow­ing, and right now it’s 18 or 19 cents out of ev­ery dol­lar we spend, we are not go­ing to be able to sus­tain that, and then that’s when rash de­ci­sions are made about clos­ing hospi­tals in com­mu­ni­ties and dra­mat­i­cally re­duc­ing ser­vices,” Kozel said.

Kozel vis­ited the com­mis­sion­ers along with Patti Wil­lis, se­nior vice pres­i­dent, strat­egy and com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

Kozel said the hospi­tal in Ch­ester­town is work­ing to­ward the na­tional trend of us­ing emer­gency rooms as a last re­sort. In­stead, peo­ple are asked to visit an ur­gent care fa­cil­ity or talk to their pri­mary care physi­cian be­fore they go to the ER. Kozel said this helps lower the cost of health care.

“It ap­pears that you’re in a mode of main­tain­ing what you’ve got with­out ex­pand­ing your ser­vices,” Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Pick­rum said.

Kozel said that is not nec­es­sar­ily true, but the hospi­tal may ex­pand in dif­fer­ent ways than what is of­fered at the fa­cil­ity. He said ex­pan­sion might in­clude hav­ing more specialists set up prac­tices in the county or pro­vid­ing trans­porta­tion for pa­tients to their doc­tors.

Com­mis­sioner Bill Short said the process of find­ing specialists needs to be ex­pe­dited.

Kozel said specialists are in high de­mand. He said UM Shore Re­gional Health has to of­fer a high salary and find ways to con­nect specialists to the com­mu­nity.

“I want to put a lit­tle bit of re­al­ity check into what is go­ing on as well. And that is that health care is chang­ing rapidly be­fore our eyes,” Kozel said.

Also at the meet­ing, Jamie Wil­liams, Kent County’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment co­or­di­na­tor, and Jim Luff, chair­man of the Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Com­mis­sion, pre­sented a sum­mary of the com­pre­hen­sive plan for eco­nomic devel­op­ment in the county.

Luff said the plan fo­cuses on jobs, ed­u­ca­tion and hous­ing. He said it has three main goals: busi­ness re­ten­tion, ex­pan­sion and at­trac­tion; pro­mot­ing work­force devel­op­ment and ed­u­ca­tion; and en­hanc­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

“If we are to achieve those goals we need to be proac­tive and not ex­pect busi­nesses to come knock­ing on our doors,” Luff said.

He said the Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Com­mis­sion met with the mayor of Mid­dle­town, Del. to share ideas on at­tract­ing busi­ness to the county.

“I know at first a lot of peo­ple say we don’t want to be Mid­dle­town, Del. and I un­der­stand that, but the core ba­sis of how they did things worked and it will work for us,” Luff said.

He said Mid­dle­town had key fac­tors for bring­ing busi­ness, which in­cluded ap­pro­pri­ate zon­ing laws, hav­ing the sup­port of the com­mu­nity, hav­ing the nec­es­sary in­fra­struc­ture for eco­nomic growth and ex­pe­dited ap­proval pro­cesses. He said in­cen­tives of­ten do not mat­ter if the other fac­tors have been met.

Luff also spoke on de­vel­op­ing the U.S. Route 301 cor­ri­dor. He said be­cause of Mid­dle­town’s devel­op­ment, peo­ple are go­ing to the town from Philadel­phia and Wilm­ing­ton.

“We have the op­por­tu­nity, we just have to act on it,” Luff said.

Pick­rum ex­pressed con­cerns over the Route 301 cor­ri­dor not in­clud­ing that much land for devel­op­ment, but Luff said there is more land around Milling­ton.

Wil­liams said the eco­nomic devel­op­ment plan is still open to com­ments and re­vi­sions.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the com­mis­sion­ers passed an amend- ment in­tro­duced in July for busi­ness per­sonal prop­erty taxes. The bill calls for the tax to be im­posed on 50 per­cent of the as­sess­ment for equipment used to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity for sale.

Short said he was con­cerned the amend­ment would be­come a “loop­hole that shouldn’t be there.”

“So any­body who wants to set up one of th­ese so­lar com­pa­nies, they can fig­ure out a way to co-op with let’s say Ch­ester­town,” Short said.

County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Shel­ley Heller said the en­ergy can only be sold to non­prof­its and govern­ment or ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties. She said it is “very lim­ited.”

Wash­ing­ton Col­lege will be a client of a so­lar project in Massey and will not be sub­ject to the tax, Heller said. She said it will be called a “so­lar devel­op­ment.” She said the projects are only avail­able for cer­tain in­sti­tu­tions.

“The only thing th­ese guys have to do is out­smart the whole sys­tem and de­velop some type of re­la­tion­ship with all th­ese ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices that are ex­empt,” Short said.

County At­tor­ney Tom Yea­ger said the bill was pat­terned af­ter leg­is­la­tion in Queen Anne’s County.

The com­mis­sion­ers also ac­cepted the Town of Ch­ester­town’s re­quest to an­nex 145.11 acres, which houses the town’s waste­water treat­ment plant. The mat­ter was met with slight hes­i­ta­tion by the com­mis­sion­ers.

“Why does the town want to an­nex this? What does it gain?” Pick­rum said.

Heller said the land is con­tigu­ous to Ch­ester­town, but there is wet­land in between. She said the prop­erty can­not be used by any­thing other than the waste­water treat­ment plant.

It was an­nounced that the court­house tower will need to be taken down. Upon re­view, it was dis­cov­ered that it is not struc­turally sound.

Heller said there is some equipment on the tower which will need to be taken down. Pick­rum rec­om­mended tak­ing down the tower and hav­ing the equipment moved else­where to save money.

“I don’t see why we don’t just re­move the tower,” Pick­rum said.

Fithian asked if there was another tower the equipment could be moved to. He sug­gested giv­ing 90 days for any­one to have equipment re­moved from the tower.

John Cross­ley was rec­og­nized for 27 years of ser­vice at the Kent County De­ten­tion Cen­ter. He was hired July 25, 1990, and will re­tire at the end of October.

“It’s been a plea­sure work­ing for the county,” Cross­ley said.

To­gether with his time in the U.S. Army, he ends his ca­reer with 30 years of pub­lic ser­vice.

“I’ve learned one thing about work­ing cor­rec­tions. You have to treat peo­ple the same way you want to be treated. Yes they are inmates, but they are still hu­man be­ings,” Cross­ley said.

Cross­ley re­ceived a plaque to com­mem­o­rate his ser­vice for the county and also en­joyed some cake.

Jim Luff, chair­man of the Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Com­mis­sion, pro­vides the Kent County Com­mis­sion­ers with a sum­mary of the com­pre­hen­sive eco­nomic devel­op­ment plan Tuesday.

Af­ter 27 years of ser­vice at the Kent County De­ten­tion Cen­ter, John Crossely, cen­ter, is re­tir­ing at the end of October. Cross­ley re­ceived a plaque com­mem­o­rat­ing his time there dur­ing the Kent County Com­mis­sion­ers’ meet­ing Tuesday.

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