Hos­pi­tal’s fu­ture topic of Mon­day meet­ing

Record Observer - - Front Page -

CH­ESTER­TOWN — The state-spon­sored study group re­spon­si­ble for de­ter­min­ing the longterm fu­ture of the Ch­ester­town hos­pi­tal — whether it will con­tinue to pro­vide in­pa­tient care and surgery — will meet Mon­day, Jan. 9, in Ch­ester­town.

The Ru­ral Health­care De­liv­ery Plan Work­group meet­ing will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Hyn­son Lounge, on the sec­ond floor of Hod­son Hall on the cam­pus of Wash­ing­ton Col­lege. The pub­lic is wel­come to at­tend.

This will be the work­group’s third meet­ing since the Gen­eral Assem­bly passed a law for­bid­ding clo­sure of in­pa­tient ser vices in Ch­ester­town for four years, and re­quir­ing the state Health Care Com­mis­sion to as­sem­ble politi­cians and ex­perts to de­sign a health­care sys­tem for the five Mid-Shore coun­ties: Kent , Queen Anne’s, Caro­line, Dorch­ester and Tal­bot.

“We hope area res­i­dents will come to the meet­ing to show the work­group that our com­mu­nity feels strongly that we need our fullser­vice hos­pi­tal,” said Dr. Jerry O’Con­nor, a co-founder of Save the Hos­pi­tal and one of 31 physi­cians who signed a protest ad in De­cem­ber 2015. “We be­lieve it is un­wise and un­healthy to force our se­niors and low-in­come res­i­dents to travel 36 to 50 miles to an­other fa­cil­ity for the care they now re­ceive in Ch­ester­town.”

At its Novem­ber meet­ing, the work­group heard from UM Shore Re­gional Health, Anne Arun­del Med­i­cal Cen­ter, and Penin­sula Re­gional Health Sys­tem about ser­vices they pro­vide on the Mid-Shore. Shore Health Pres­i­dent and CEO Ken Kozel, whose sys­tem serves all five coun­ties, urged the work­group to de­sign a plan with a fi­nan­cial struc­ture that would take into ac­count the un­usu­ally high ex­penses of pro­vid­ing care in a re­gion with a low pop­u­la­tion den­sity, a short­age of pri­mary and spe­cialty care physi­cians, and a lack of pub­lic trans­porta­tion ap­pro­pri­ate for health care needs.

Un­der the law that cre­ated the Work­group, the Ru­ral Health­care De­liv­ery Plan must be fi­nal­ized and sent to the Gen­eral Assem­bly next Oc­to­ber. At that point, state law­mak­ers are ex­pected to turn the plan into leg­is­la­tion that will de­ter­mine the health­care sys­tem that will ex­ist on the Mid-Shore for many years to come.

“Our com­mu­nity called at­ten­tion to the need for sus­tain­able and high qual­ity med­i­cal care here in Kent and north­ern Queen Anne’s County, and our elected of­fi­cials re­sponded,” said Dr. Wayne Ben­jamin, co-founder of Save the Hos­pi­tal. “I hope our com­mu­nity will come out as they did at the (Ch­ester­town) fire­house last Jan­uary to show the work­group how im­por­tant our hos­pi­tal is to our health and qual­ity of life.”

For more in­for­ma­tion on the Work­group, go to mhcc.mary­land.gov, and click on the Work­groups link to find the Ru­ral Health Care De­liv­ery Work­group.

PHOTO BY DANIEL DIVILIO

The hos­pi­tal in Ch­ester­town will re­main open un­til at least 2020 while law­mak­ers con­sider the needs of ru­ral health care.

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