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Trauma center to get funds

June 18, 2004|by LAURA ERNDE

HAGERSTOWN

laurae@herald-mail.com

Nearly two years after the state promised to help, Washington County Hospital will start receiving a subsidy for its trauma center.

When a staffing crisis forced the hospital to temporarily close its trauma center for four months during the summer of 2002, state elected officials offered relief.

Last year, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation that raised money for trauma centers by increasing the vehicle registration fee by $5 every two years.

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Finally, the state is ready to give the first grants from the new Maryland Trauma Physicians Services Fund created by the legislation.

Washington County Hospital President and CEO James Hamill said the hospital expects to receive $1.3 million.

About $800,000 of that is from the registration fee increase and the rest will come from increases in hospital reimbursement rates to reflect the cost of providing trauma services, Hamill said.

It costs about $3 million a year to operate the trauma center, he said.

That includes about $1.4 million that trauma surgeons receive to be on call for the hospital, he said.

The hospital has been paying the on-call costs since October 2002, after an agreement with the trauma surgeons, who said providing the service for free was taking a toll on their private practices and their families.

Hamill said the hospital would like to receive more money, but the grants will certainly help.

"We're just pleased to finally be getting some money out of it."

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