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Hospital yet to submit a revised application a revised application

July 01, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Washington County Health System's top official said Wednesday it is taking longer than he expected to clear up questions from state regulators about plans to build a new hospital.

Facing pressure from state regulators, health system officials withdrew their application for a certificate of need in mid-May. A revised application has not yet been submitted.

The state official in charge of reviewing the application indicated it would be rejected because the health system's plan to pay for the new construction was outside state guidelines.

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The certificate of need must be approved by the Maryland Health Care Commission before the health system can begin construction on the hospital to replace the one on East Antietam Street.

"We're clearly behind schedule," said James Hamill, the health system's president and corporate executive officer. He said that meetings with the health care commission have gone well and have "cleared up a lot of misunderstanding."

Maryland Health Care Commission staff members have asked health system officials to provide more analysis in areas such as the cost of building and the overall types of services the hospital will provide, Hamill said.

Hamill said he hoped hospital officials would be able to submit a revised application to the state health care agency in July. If that happens, he said, the hospital could still open in March 2007 at a site near Robinwood Medical Center.

Further delays could push back the planned completion date.

Hamill said the delays have not been without costs. Officials originally estimated the cost of building the hospital at about $165 million, but Hamill said current estimates have increased by about $10 million due to rising fuel and construction material prices.

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