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Hospital errantly posts info on Web

July 27, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Possible changes under consideration for a new Washington County Hospital were publicly available on the Internet Wednesday, Thursday and Friday - to the surprise of the hospital's top official.

A link to the information was on the Washington County Health System's Internet home page. The Health System is the hospital's parent company.

The link was removed within 30 minutes of a phone interview with James Hamill, president and chief executive officer of the health system, about the information.

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The information was intended only for the eyes of employees and others on teams developing plans for a possible new hospital, Hamill said. The information is preliminary and may change, he said.

Sean Maher, the hospital's webmaster, said the information accidentally was made public due to a coding error.

The information will be available to the public at some point in the near future, Maher said.

He said the system's Internet page at www.wchsys.org drew about 3,300 different visitors this week.

The 461,153-square-foot hospital has 301 beds. A new 500,000-square-foot hospital would also have about 300 beds but all rooms would have a single patient, Hamill said.

The hospital has about 74 single-patient rooms, a spokeswoman said.

The trend with new hospitals is for all rooms to be single-patient rooms, which provides more privacy, Hamill said.

According to information on the Internet pages, issues under consideration include:

  • Increasing the size of the general operating room from the current 360 to 400 square feet to 450 square feet.

  • Building a heliport on the ground adjacent to the emergency department. Currently, helicopters land on the roof of the hospital and patients are taken down an elevator to the emergency department.

  • Keeping the main laboratory at Robinwood Medical Center, which also is owned by the Health System.

  • Increasing the number of ambulance bays from three to six, with two in a separate area for commercial ambulances.



"I think that's a great idea," said Bardona Woods, Washington County's 911 communications chief. "Six bays would be excellent."

Woods runs paramedic calls with the Boonsboro Ambulance and Rescue Company and Sharpsburg Area Emergency Medical Services Inc.

There are times when all three bays are full and paramedics have to move an ambulance to make room for an incoming ambulance, said Woods and Alan Matheny, Halfway Volunteer Fire Co. spokesman.

On Friday, Hamill also confirmed the location of the three proposed hospital sites, which were previously identified by The Herald-Mail.

The sites are:

  • About 230 acres of agricultural land east of Hagerstown Community College and north of Robinwood Medical Center.

  • Allegheny Energy's 450-acre Friendship Technology Park, south of Hagerstown off Interstate 70.

  • Two downtown city blocks.



The city of Hagerstown suggests the hospital be constructed between East Franklin and East Washington streets and between Mulberry Street and North Cannon Avenue.

To meet the needs of a new hospital, the city said a parking deck could be built on the block surrounded by Washington, Antietam and Mulberry streets and South Cannon Avenue.

Under the city proposal, 59 properties would have to be acquired, Mayor William M. Breichner said.

Hamill said he expects a preferred site will be selected this summer, but a decision on whether the health system can afford a new hospital won't occur until next summer.

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