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City reports total spending of $292,630 in hospital fight

April 28, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown City Finance Director Alfred Martin said Tuesday the city has received a March bill for $7,895 from the law firm that has been working to oppose plans to move Washington County Hospital.

The March billing brings the money spent by the city on the dispute to $292,630.

The city hired Baltimore law firm Funk & Bolton P.A. and two health-care consultants last July after Washington County Health System filed with state agencies plans to leave East Antietam Street and build a hospital at a site near Robinwood Medical Center.

The health system, which owns and operates the hospital, needs state approval for its certificate of need application as well and for its plan to finance the construction.

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Martin said the March bill is what was charged by Funk & Bolton. It may not be the complete cost associated with the hospital dispute for March because he is not sure if the city will receive a bill from the health-care consultants.

Martin said he did not know if additional costs would be incurred by the city in the dispute. "A lot will depend really on our issues with the hospital and what the mayor and council decide to do," he said.

The mayor and council met with hospital officials Monday in a closed session in the first meeting between the two sides since October. More meetings are planned.

Health System President and Chief Executive Officer James Hamill has said he hopes to convince city officials that the site near Robinwood Drive would be the best one for the hospital.

If the city continues to dispute the relocation, hospital officials have said they could be forced to submit new applications, which would delay the project and likely increase the cost, which is set now at $165 million.

City officials have said they have concerns over the location, costs to patients and how hospital administrators will finance the project. They also said the law firm and health consultants have raised questions that showed problems in the hospital's application.

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