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Residents have mixed reactions to hospital move

July 31, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown residents on Wednesday expressed mixed reactions to the City of Hagerstown's efforts to block the Washington County Hospital Association from proceeding with plans to move the hospital outside the city.

The city's efforts, which include hiring a lawyer and an expert on hospitals, is appropriate because "many of us don't have cars," said Summer Arthurs, 22, who was pushing two babies in a stroller near Public Square.

The current location is better for people without cars, said Arthurs, one of about a dozen people interviewed in downtown Hagerstown.

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Dieter Blosel, 33, of Hagerstown, said the city should not get in the way of the hospital moving to a new location.

"If they have a better place for them, that is fine," Blosel said.

But he said the city should try to ensure that some new industry comes in to replace the hospital.

The city is asking the Maryland Health Care Commission to deny the Washington County Hospital Association a certificate of need, one of several requirements for the hospital to move from its Antietam Street building to land adjacent to the Robinwood Medical Center on Robinwood Drive.

City officials question why a new hospital can't be built at the existing site.

Sherri Becker, 36, of Hagerstown, said she disagrees with the city's actions. The hospital should have the right to move to wherever hospital officials feel is the best location, she said.

Brenda Ingram, 41, of Hagerstown, said the hospital should stay at its current location, and perhaps make improvements, because it is a more convenient site for local residents to reach.

The city's actions are appropriate, said Ingram and Lachenne Boyce, 33, of Hagerstown, while the two sat at a bus stop near Public Square.

"Transportation is hard to come by," Boyce said.

Trey O'Neal, 24, of Hagerstown, said the city's actions are good because the current location is where people are accustomed to going and he sees no reason to change that.

Charlie Sekula, 58, of Hagerstown, owner of the Schmankerl Stube restaurant, disagreed with the city's actions.

"No, the city should move on. I do not see why they are digging this back up when it has been laid to rest," Sekula said.

Tammie Bierer, 45, of Hagerstown, and Robert Snowden, 44, of Hagerstown, said they support the city trying to block the hospital from moving, saying the present location serves the entire community better.

Lorenzo Flores, 25, of Hagerstown, agreed the city should try to get the hospital to stay at the present site.

Eugene Smith, 49, of Hagerstown, said he wants the city to try to get the hospital to stay at what he considers a better location and one easier to reach by car.

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