“Dead in the water” was her portrayal of what would have been the chances of keeping inpatient beds in Chestertown had Shore Regional Health taken a different tack.
There appears to have been a subtle shift in the relationship between Shore Regional Health and advocates for keeping inpatient beds in Chestertown, or at least Mizeur sees it that way. She labeled it “consensus building.” “We’re all seeing the horizon from the same perspective,” she said.
The white paper includes an economic impact report that shows Shore Regional Health generated $309.1 million in fiscal year 2016. Shore Medical Center at Chestertown generated $53.6 million.
Shore Regional Health employees 2,252 people; 256 of them, or 11 percent, work at the Chestertown hospital. By comparison, Shore Medical Center at Easton, where UMMS and Shore Regional Health want to build a new regional hospital, generated $190.6 million in revenue and employees 1,203 people.
Also in FY 2016, Shore Regional Health reported 10,7669 total hospital admissions, 1,596 of which were to the Chestertown hospital and 7,412 were at Easton. Of the 79,064 emergency room visits, 14,259 were in Chestertown compared to the 27,987 in Easton.
Shore Regional Health’s white paper makes a compelling argument for maintaining inpatient beds in Chestertown.
Because of Kent County’s geographic isolation and lack of public transportation, getting to a hospital in Easton or Annapolis or Elkton is challenging. The estimated drive time from Rock Hall to Easton is 65 minutes, more if you get behind school buses or farm equipment on secondar y roads, according to the white paper.
Kent County also has an aging population; 24 percent of its residents are older than 65. Having family and friends who can visit during a hospital stay is an important component in their recovery. Distance and lack of transportation make that less likely to happen.
Having family close by also is important for single parents and their young children.
As reported by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,
one of the top five health care issues in Kent County is poverty — along with affordability of health care, obesity, lack of physical activity and smoking during pregnancy.
Kent is the only Mid-Shore county to have poverty listed as a key health care issue.
Low health literacy is a particular problem for people in poverty, according to a study that Shore Regional Health cited. In Kent County, more than 50 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-priced meals.
Low or limited health literacy is associated with a lower likelihood of using preventive health ser vices, a greater likelihood of taking medicines incorrectly and poor health status.
Jacobs, O’Connor and Kareiva, in separate interviews, talked about the importance of having an intensive care unit — for the well-being of patients and the sustainability of the hospital.
“If I’m doing a simple case and the patient has a heart attack, they need an ICU. You can’t just put them in an ambulance and ship them to Easton,” Kareiva said.
“We definitely need intensive care. If not, you’ll have to get rid of the OR. And once you get rid of the OR, other services will follow,” she said.