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City Council, hospital meeting set

April 23, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner said Thursday that a meeting between the City Council and Washington County Hospital administrators has been set for Monday.

The meeting would be the first between the two groups in six months. City officials and the hospital administration are at odds over plans to build a new hospital outside the city.

Breichner said the meeting would be closed under the business negotiations provision of the Maryland Open Meetings Act, which requires that most meetings of elected bodies be public.

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Washington County Health System, which owns and operates the hospital, last June filed with state agencies plans to move the hospital from East Antietam Street to a site near Robinwood Drive.

While the mayor and some city council members have said they believe the hospital would be better located in the city, they said they hope to learn more about the hospital's plans through a meeting.

Health System President and Chief Executive Officer James Hamill has said hospital officials hope that in a face-to-face meeting they can convince city officials the proposed site near Robinwood Medical Center is the best location.

The meeting comes after several months of sometimes contentious public exchanges between the city and hospital representatives.

The city hired a law firm and two health care consultants to dispute the hospital's application, spending $284,735 through February.

Shortly after Hamill said earlier this month that recent requests to meet with the city had been denied, the council members voiced their support for such a meeting.

Tuesday, during a closed session, the council agreed unanimously to meet with hospital officials, but wanted them to decide how and where the meeting would be conducted.

Breichner said Thursday that Hamill requested the meeting be closed. He said the meeting would take place Monday at 6 p.m. at the new American Red Cross building near Eastern Boulevard.

The mayor and council, Hamill and five hospital officials are scheduled to meet, Breichner said. The discussion will include the hospital's location and whether there will be further meetings.

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