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Hospital 'shall' be on its way out of the city

November 19, 2002|by TIM ROWLAND

And now the moment we've all been waiting for, the suspenseful moment of truth when Washington County Health System announces the location for its new hospital.

And the winner is...

DOWNTOWN HAGERSTOWN!!

Yea! What a great day for the city, what a wonderful chance to rejuvenate the urban core, how marvelous will it be for ... how's that?

Oh sorry, that was a misprint. Seems the hospital is moving out to the Robinwood Medical Center.

Boy, there's a shock. Confirmation of news even the cows in the pasture have known for the past decade. This "announcement" was as predictable as Miss Texas winning the beauty pageant back in the '70s.

How the hospital could turn its back on the great incentive package the city offered up, I don't know. What did it boil down to, cheaper sewer rates? There's a prize you want to shoot for on the game show. Welcome to "Who Wants To Be a Cheap Sewer User?" with your host, Regis Philbin.

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For the record, here were my Top 12 reasons why the hospital should have remained in the city:

12.) Washington County Health System would join the new University of Maryland System and you can never have too many systems.

11.) All those bricks they're laying in downtown sidewalks make great whetstones for scalpels.

10.) Horribly low hospital administrator pay at least partially offset by downtown shopping bargains.

9.) Medevac helicopter gives the winos something to watch.

8.) Ambulance drivers enjoy the hunk of cheese they're rewarded with after negotiating maze of one-way city streets.

7.) Big, round mirror surgeons must depend on to enter Antietam Street reminds them of tonsillectomy procedure.

6.) Being inside the hospital not appreciably worse than being outside.

5.) Medical waste incinerator smoke barely noticed.

4.) Patient morale boosted by little crow of happiness singing on their windowsill.

3.) "Prescription drug cards" totally unnecessary on majority of city street corners.

2.) Emergency Room 75 percent closer to majority of county's stabbing victims.

1.) Corner Pub right next door for all those expectant fathers who don't buy into that whole "miracle of birth" charade.

Of course the move really isn't such a blow, since hospital administrators assure us that the hospital will maintain a presence downtown with administrative offices and a service to be named later.

Funny, isn't this almost exactly, word for word, the same thing the Hagerstown YMCA told the city before it like totally got out of Dodge?

I'm betting that six seconds after the "Closed" sign goes up in the window, you'll see Jim Hamill's car fishtailing out of the parking lot, spraying city fathers with gravel as they wail, "Please come back, we can chaaange!"

When they move, I hope they at least have a good yard sale. Shunts, three for $1.

By the way, has anyone asked the residents of Black Rock and Brightwood Acres their opinion on all this? Traffic is already just an eeensy weensy bit heavy out there and they have frowned on new housing. How are they going to react to 2,000 new commuters, not to mention the patients.

Speaking of patients, it sure will be a radically different neighborhood, moving from Antietam Street to upscale Mt. Aetna Road. Hospital officials have privately grumbled about the emergency room downtown being used as a defacto clinic for Section 8 kids. Won't have that problem at Aetna. The No. 1 emergency-room treatment is likely to go from sore throats to liposuction.

All this, though, and the city believes the hospital is not necessarily bound by its announcement of the move. Crazy city. Always trying to substitute the word "may" for the word "shall."

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or you may e-mail him at timr@herald-mail.com.

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