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Center unlikely to reopen by holiday

A Washington County Hospital spokeswoman says opening the trauma canter will

A Washington County Hospital spokeswoman says opening the trauma canter will

August 28, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Washington County Hospital's Trauma Center is not likely to reopen before the busy Labor Day weekend as negotiations between the administration and its trauma surgeons continue, a hospital spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"It's going to take a little bit longer than they anticipated," hospital spokeswoman Maureen Theriault said.

Saying it could not cover all shifts with surgeons, the hospital closed its trauma center June 1. As a result, many critically injured patients are being taken to trauma centers in the Baltimore-Washington area.

Hospital administrators have offered contracts to doctors in order to reopen the trauma center, but Theriault said Tuesday that details were still being negotiated and she was not aware of a timetable.

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President and CEO James Hamill and Vice President for Patient Care Deb Addo, two of the chief negotiators, did not return phone calls Tuesday.

Surgeons are anxious to restore the trauma center as soon as possible, said Dr. Karl Riggle, vice chief of surgery at the hospital.

"We've been working very hard to try to make it happen," said Riggle, who declined to provide details.

A task force appointed to work on the issue is not scheduled to meet this week, Theriault said.

Task force member Del. John P. Donoghue said the parties involved are working hard to reopen the center as soon as possible.

"I think everybody's trying to move as quickly as we can and be as diligent as possible," said Donoghue, D-Washington.

Washington County Health Officer William Christoffel, another task force member, said he wished the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems would take more leadership. Institute representatives could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

About two weeks ago, Hamill expressed hope that the trauma center would reopen by Labor Day. The holiday weekend is typically busy for trauma centers.

Although that now appears unlikely, the hospital's emergency room remains open to handle routine medical emergencies and stabilize critically injured patients, Theriault said.

Meanwhile, a Glen Burnie, Md., man whose Aug. 2 all-terrain vehicle accident drew attention to the trauma center issue, entered a rehab center Tuesday.

Justin Fishell, 25, was transferred from the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center to the Kernan Hospital, which is also in Baltimore, a shock trauma spokeswoman said.

It took emergency crews 90 minutes to get Fishell to the Shock Trauma center after the Aug. 2 accident at the Mason-Dixon Dragway, about 8 miles from Hagerstown.

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