Citizens need the facts to back hospital's move

July 13, 2004

A group of Hagerstown business leaders last week said that they're organizing to help the Washington County Hospital win approval for a new facility located next to the Robinwood Medical Center.

James Latimer, the group's co-chair, said that one of its aims will be to show the Maryland Health Care Commission that "citizens support a new hospital at Robinwood."

Those are good objectives. The Herald-Mail supports the hospital move as the best way to ensure quality medical care for this region.

But we would urge this group not to take citizen support for granted. There's some education that needs to be done to make sure that those who would be served realize why the hospital needs to move.


Washington County Hospital officials have told us they will soon face a more stringent set of standards - standards that would be difficult to achieve at the present location.

A new hospital would also allow wards to be laid out on a "hub and spoke" pattern, with nurses and monitoring equipment at the hub. Such a layout would minimize the amount of walking nurses would need to do to get to each patient.

A new hospital, with all single rooms, would make it easier to deal with privacy issues. It would also make it easier to isolate patients when that need arose.

Then there's what the hospital calls the "synergy" that would be created by having the hospital adjacent to the Robinwood center.

A doctor who was in his or her Robinwood office could be called to the hospital quickly if there were an emergency. One of the issues in the trauma center shutdown was that surgeons on call couldn't handle private patients at the same time. Putting the hospital next to the the Robinwood center would seem to make it possible to be on call and see patients, too.

Likewise, a patient who came to a doctor's office in serious distress could be moved to the hospital on a wheelchair instead of by ambulance.

We know these things because we've had a number of meetings with hospital officials. We've shared them in columns, news stories and editorials, but there's a need to state them again, to make sure citizens understand.

It is one thing for this business group to say it supports the new hospital being built at Robinwood, but what ordinary citizens need to hear is why it's a good idea.

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