Hospital’s future topic of Monday meeting
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.
The hospital in Chestertown will remain open until at least 2020 while lawmakers consider the needs of rural health care.