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Expansion project under way at Brook Lane Health Services

September 05, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

A multi-million-dollar hospital expansion project under way at Brook Lane Health Services near Smithsburg will enable the mental health facility to serve more patients, Brook Lane CEO R. Lynn Rushing said recently.

He lauded the Smithsburg Town Council's willingness to issue the low-interest bonds being used to fund the bulk of the $3.9 million project.

The council in July voted to issue $5.5 million in tax-exempt bonds to cover the project's cost and repay at a lower interest rate the balance of a prior construction project at Brook Lane.

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The town is not responsible for dispersing loan funds or repayment of the loan if Brook Lane defaults, Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said.

"We're just a mechanism. The only thing we did was sign a paper," she said.

The Maryland Economic Development Revenue Bond Act empowers all state counties and municipalities to borrow money by issuing negotiable revenue bonds, sell them, and loan the sale proceeds to a facility applicant such as Brook Lane Health Services for such uses as facility construction and improvement.

Bond purchaser Farmers & Merchants Bank and Trust is financing most - $3.6 million - of the much-needed construction project, Rushing said. The remaining funds will come from Brook Lane's operating budget and donations, he said.

The Zonta Club of Hagerstown awarded Brook Lane a $50,000 challenge grant, which matches up to the first $50,000 worth of gifts and pledges received for the construction project, Brook Lane Development Director Kay E. Hoffman said.

The grant was given in honor of longtime Zonta member Louise Sutter, who died in 1999.

In addition to the bonds, the Zonta contribution will enable Brook Lane to better provide for the needs of the community by offering more individual in-patient rooms, Rushing said.

"The increased demand for immediate hospitalizations requiring individual rooms has strained our current facility beyond its capacity," he said.

Brook Lane has turned away more than 200 potential in-patients each year for the past three years due to lack of single-bed rooms, Rushing said.

Only 13 of Brook Lane's 40 in-patient rooms offer single beds. More private rooms are needed to serve an increasing number of acutely mentally ill patients, Rushing said.

Forty-two single beds will be available after the expansion is completed - perhaps as early as next summer, he said.

Brook Lane offers in-patient and outpatient services and partial-day programs that treat a myriad of mental health issues for children, adolescents and adults. The 150-acre campus off Leitersburg-Smithsburg Road features a hospital, special education school and one of only three transitional care group homes for children and adolescents in the state, Rushing said.

Brook Lane employs five psychiatrists who work with children and five who work with adults, he said.

Brook Lane's Meadowbrook center in the North Village Shopping Center offers outpatient behavioral health services, a medication clinic and community room.

Plans for the expanded hospital on the main campus include 30,000 square feet of new space and 3,900 square feet of renovated space, Rushing said.

A two-story, V-shaped addition to the front of Stone Bridge transitional care home will house 20 single-occupancy rooms for adults and 16 single-bed rooms for adolescents on the upper level, and child and adolescent outpatient services, offices, records storage space and a handicapped accessible meeting room on the lower level.

Each wing will include a day room for patients, and the adolescent wing will feature a private hallway for patients to access the dining hall, Rushing said.

The current transitional home will be renovated into a children's wing with six single-bed rooms and a day room. A centralized nursing station will enable staff members to view all patient rooms from one location, Rushing said.

Existing space will be renovated for the nursing station, centralized medication room, a new waiting area, treatment rooms and offices, he said. More space will be added for patient dining, Rushing said.

The transitional home will be moved to the current hospital building after construction is finished, he said.

Building Systems Incorporated of Hagerstown is doing the construction, which should cause no more than minimal disruption to services, Rushing said.

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