Hos­pi­tal ser­vices im­por­tant, of­fi­cials told

Record Observer - - News - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@kibay­times.com

SUDLERSVILLE — On Sun­day af­ter­noon, April 24, the eighth and fi­nal “lis­ten­ing ses­sion” spon­sored by Univer­sity of Mary­land Shore Re­gional Health Sys­tem was held in the large mutli-pur­pose room at Sudlersville fire house. Of the 15 peo­ple at­tend­ing, most were in their late 40s or older.

Chris­tine Clarke, di­rec­tor of Or­ga­ni­za­tion De­vel­op­ment of Univer­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Sys­tem, served as fa­cil­i­ta­tor. She in­tro­duced Shore Re­gional Health Pres­i­dent and CEO Ken Kozel.

“We’re here to lis­ten to you, mem­bers of the com­mu­nity, to gather in­for­ma­tion about what you feel is most im­por­tant about how we can bet­ter serve you. We want to hear your ideas for health care needs in this area,” Kozel said. A sign be­hind him stated the meet­ing’s pur­pose: Creat­ing health­ier com­mu­ni­ties to­gether.

Au­di­ence mem­bers were quick to re­spond. Some in­di­cated they had at­tended at least one of the other seven pre­vi­ous meet­ings in the area.

Con­cerns and de­sires dis­cussed in­cluded:

1. Keep a full-ser­vice hos­pi­tal in Ch­ester­town. Cur­rently, there has been an an­nounced, but not fi­nal­ized, plan to keep the hos­pi­tal in Ch­ester­town open as an “acute care fa­cil­ity” un­til 2022. Af­ter that, it may or may not re­main at that sta­tus.

2. Trans­porta­tion to med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties in the area is in­ad­e­quate, par­tic­u­larly for se­niors with lim­ited re­sources and those who are poor.

3. An ef­fort should be made to clearly ed­u­cate the public, es­pe­cially in Ch­ester­town, as to what ser­vices are cur­rently be­ing of­fered at the Ch­ester­town hos­pi­tal.

4. The hos­pi­tal there is no longer staffed to of­fer full­time pe­di­atric or ob­stet­ric and gy­ne­co­log­i­cal ser vices and hasn’t been for sev­eral years. It does treat peo­ple in the emer­gency room for those needs, but long­time care must be sought else­where. It was rec­om­mended that th­ese ser­vices be brought back to the hos­pi­tal. How­ever, the ser­vices were dropped be­cause there was not enough de­mand in the im­me­di­ate area of Ch­ester­town to war­rant the ser­vices to be main­tained, hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials said. For ex­am­ple, child births were only av­er­ag­ing about 70 per year, and at least 200 births are needed to fi­nan­cially sup­port and jus­tify hav­ing such a ser vice.

5. There has been dif­fi­culty find­ing enough pri­mary care physi­cians in the im­me­di­ate area for all peo­ple. It was rec­om­mended that a pol­icy be put in place to re­cruit new, young physi­cians to come to serve the com­mu­nity, but that won’t hap­pen with­out pe­di­atric and OB/GYN ser­vices be­ing of­fered, par­tic­u­larly at the hos­pi­tal.

6. It was rec­om­mended that rea­son­able goals be set for med­i­cal ser­vices with time-lines, and re­ports is­sued reg­u­larly to in­form the public about progress on those goals.

“Peo­ple don’t want un­cer­tainty in re­gards to health care ser­vices,” one at­tendee stated.

Along with the pur­pose be­ing posted at the front of the room, list­ings such as “Ideas,” “Bar­ri­ers” and “Needs” were also posted. The Needs poster re­ceived the most list­ings dur­ing the meet­ing.

A Sudlersville woman, whose name was not given, said the town of Sudlersville has an­nexed sur­round­ing prop­er­ties where up to 600 new homes could be built over the next decade.

She said, “With growth like that, it would not be wise to not have a full-care hos­pi­tal in the im­me­di­ate area.”

An­other per­son said, “The schools around here are full of chil­dren,” and she didn’t un­der­stand why the hos­pi­tal didn’t have pe­di­atrics of­fered.

Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sioner Jack Wil­son, who lives in Dis­trict 1 (which is north county), at­tended. He spoke briefly about a by­pass that will be built out of Dover, Del., that is ex­pected to bring more traf­fic down Route 301 out of Delaware. With it comes the po­ten­tial for more ac­ci­dents along that high­way, and hos­pi­tal ser­vices will cer­tainly be needed in the fu­ture, he said.

The fa­cil­i­ta­tor said it was the first they had heard of a by­pass.

Dr. Ger­ald O’Con­nor, at­tend­ing physi­cian at Ch­ester River Hos­pi­tal, also was among those who spoke. O’Con­nor men­tioned he was one of the peo­ple who had started the “Save Our Hos­pi­tal” move­ment. He told the group it left him with a very poor im­pres­sion that none of the board mem­bers from Shore Re­gional Healh were present to hear their con­cerns.

“Th­ese are the same peo­ple who are go­ing to de­cide

what ser­vices you’re go­ing to have, and de­ci­sions about your lives, and not one board mem­ber is here to hear what you have to say,” he said.

O’Con­nor sug­gested he was of the im­pres­sion that “if some­thing’s not bro­ken, why fix it? Some things might need to be tweaked, but not re­moved.”

Of­fi­cials said they will now take the in­for­ma­tion gath­ered from all eight lis­ten­ing ses­sions and con­sider plans for the fu­ture.


Pres­i­dent and CEO of Shore Re­gional Health Ken Kozel ad­dressed those in at­ten­dance for com­mu­nity meet­ing, Sun­day af­ter­noon, April 24, at the Sudlersville Vol­un­teer Fire Com­pany. In the back­ground, fa­cil­i­ta­tor Chris­tine Clarke. Kozel said, “We’re do­ing a ser­vice de­liv­ery study, as well as the state of Mary­land. We need to hear back from the com­mu­nity about what your needs are.”

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