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Hospital begins process to build

July 09, 2003|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Hospital Association has applied to the Maryland Health Care Commission for a Certificate of Need, one of several steps required to replace the present hospital building on Antietam Street with a new structure.

The health care commission will review the application and render a decision, perhaps by October or November, according to James Hamill, president and chief executive officer of Washington County Health Systems Inc.

If the application is not approved, Hamill said the project would be delayed, but "we will work through the issues" to get the application approved.

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Construction on the new hospital, to be built on a site adjacent to the Robinwood Medical Center on Robinwood Drive, is scheduled to begin in March.

The commission grants certificates based on several criteria, including cost effectiveness, quality of care and geographic and financial access to care, according to the commission's Web site. Hamill said the hospital's application is "about 2 inches thick."

The hospital's application proposes capital costs of $187.1 million for the hospital, which Hamill said includes projected construction costs of $164.3 million plus a debt service reserve fund for existing debt and "some working capital."

The application projects gross operating revenues of $197.3 million for the new hospital's first year of operation and $201.1 million for its second year.

Hamill said the project will undergo several other reviews during the next four to five months, including zoning and rate reviews.

When completed, the new hospital would have 278 acute-care beds, all in private rooms but charged at semi-private rates. Plans also call for doubling the size of the current hospital's emergency department, which Hamill recently said treats 65,000 patients a year.

Barring delays, the new hospital is scheduled to open in early 2007.

A copy of the certificate application is available for review by appointment at the commission's office in Baltimore.

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