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Council representative won't speak at hospital meeting

August 20, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday informally decided not to send a representative to speak at a meeting on the proposed relocation of Washington County Hospital, even though city officials have been critical move.

Instead, a city representative will be sent to the meeting of Washington County Health Systems - the hospital's parent company - to listen and take notes, just as system officials attended a meeting last week at which city consultants raised questions about the hospital's application with the state to relocate.

The city has asked the Maryland Health Care Commission to deny the hospital's request for a certificate of need for the move outside the city to hospital-owned property on Robinwood Drive next to the medical center.

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City officials say they won't oppose the relocation if hospital officials can adequately answer questions the city and its consultants have raised and provide proof that it would be more cost-effective to move.

Hagerstown Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the hospital has not expressly invited the city to its meeting and scheduled it for the same time the council meets.

The 90-minute hospital meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. in Suite 142 at Robinwood Medical Center.

Based on that, Metzner said, he does not think it would be appropriate for city officials to attend the meeting.

"We would be making a huge mistake if we go there," he said.

Metzner said he hopes that others attending the meeting would bring up some of the questions raised by the city, including those about plans to raise hospital rates to pay for a new facility.

"I have one word for you: Ditto," Councilman N. Linn Hendershot said to Metzner.

The topic was not on the agenda but was raised during council comments.

Metzner responded to a letter by the head of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission asking the city to drop its opposition to the hospital relocation.

Metzner said the city should use the community access channel to repeatedly broadcast remarks from city consultants questioning details of the hospital's application.

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