Western Maryland Center honors 40 years

September 15, 1997


Staff Writer

In 1957, the Western Maryland Center opened its doors, admitting its first patients.

On Sunday afternoon, those doors swung open again - this time for the center's 40th Anniversary open house.

About 100 participants showed up for the event, which was sponsored by the Western Maryland Center Foundation Inc.

"My grandmother was a patient here 30 years ago. This facility was responsible for her having five more years of quality life. I want people to know the good work done here," said Western Maryland Center Director Cynthia Miller Pellegrino.

"We are here to serve our community and the communities around us. We work to get the patient, the family and the employees together. It's really a family-oriented hospital," said public relations committee leader Sharron Silvers.


The 175-bed chronic disease hospital is operated by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygeine. It employees 300 people and has served about 8,500 patients since 1957.

Joe Preston of Rolling Road said he was curious about the center. He said he was most impressed by "the spirit of cooperation."

"I grew up in a house right across the street when they were building this building. And I delivered The Morning Herald to five or six residents here. It's a landmark building to me," said Preston, who brought his father, Joe Proksa, 83.

Visitors took tours of the building, including dietary services and the dialysis unit. They talked with staff and patients or watched a video about the center, while eating red and yellow cakes and drinking raspberry punch.

"My wife may have to be in a facility like this. I wanted to see what goes on. It's my first time here, even though I've lived here all my life," said Carl Paulsgrove, 70, of Conococheague. "The staff seems to care about the patients. It must be pretty well run to stay here that long."

"The aging population is educated better, and they come to get better and go home - particulary those in their 70s - more people fight to go home," said Assistant Director of Nursing Cathy Norris. "We're filling a gap for patients who are not ready to go home."

Norris said the center assists nursing home and chronic hospital patients, including those who have had tracheotomies, require intravenous antibiotic therapy or have a combination of chronic illnesses. Others may be ventilator-dependent or quadreplegic.

"We stress maximum levels of health and quality of life," Norris said.

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