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Hospital motion rejected by MHCC

November 22, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Maryland Health Care Commission has rejected a motion by the Washington County Hospital which would have limited the amount of feedback the Hagerstown City Council would have about a plan to build a new hospital outside the city.

Hagerstown Finance Director Alfred Martin said he is pleased by the commission's direction.

The council has asked the commission to deny the Washington County Hospital Association's request for a certificate of need, a document it must have to move the hospital from its Antietam Street location in Hagerstown to land next to Robinwood Medical Center on Robinwood Drive.

On Oct. 28, an attorney representing the hospital filed a five-page motion with the Health Care Commission asking that the city not be considered "an interested party," a status reserved for only certain parties.

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As an interested party, the city would be sent a proposed commission decision before it is official and would have a chance to formally object to the decision, Pamela W. Barclay, deputy director of the Maryland Health Care Commission, said earlier this month.

The city's response, filed Nov. 12, argues that the city deserves interested party status, which would give it more standing to dispute decisions and comments by the commission. The city argued the hospital move would hurt city residents and city employees.

Commission Reviewer Robert E. Nicolay on Thursday sent a two-paragraph letter to the city with copies sent to the hospital and others.

"I have considered the filings of Washington County Hospital and the City of Hagerstown. I will permit the City of Hagerstown to take part in this review as an interested party because the city has demonstrated to my satisfaction that it could suffer a potentially detrimental impact from the approval of a project before the commission," he wrote.

Hospital officials could not be reached for comment Friday, a spokeswoman said.

City and hospital officials agree the hospital needs a new building, but the city is not convinced Robinwood is the most accessible, affordable site, Mayor William M. Breichner has said. If the Health Care Commission decides Robinwood is the best site, then the city will support it, he said.

The city has retained David Funk, a Baltimore lawyer, at $200 an hour, and Hal Cohen of Baltimore, an expert in the field, at $250 an hour to help it work with the commission.

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