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Group to present views on hospital's move

July 15, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

HAGERSTOWN

gregs@herald-mail.com

A group formed recently to voice support for plans to move Washington County Hospital from downtown Hagerstown has outlined the platform its members will discuss at a public event Friday.

Edward Lough, a co-founder of the Hagerstown-Washington County Community Healthcare Coalition, said his group believes:

-- The city would "receive millions" of dollars in property taxes if new housing were built on ground currently occupied by the hospital on East Antietam Street and if another yet-to-be-built housing development along Mount Aetna Road were annexed into the city.

-- A site near Robinwood Medical Center is "a logical site" because it will be close to the existing medical center and Interstate 70.

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-- The hospital needs to be replaced "with a state-of-the-art medical center."

Hagerstown City Councilman N. Linn Hendershot, who was one of several city officials who criticized the coalition Tuesday, said Wednesday that the platform is questionable.

"I think we all agree" there's a need for better health-care facilities, Hendershot said. He said moving the hospital to the Robinwood site is not totally objectionable, but "I am objecting to a hospital at Robinwood at any cost."

He criticized plans to raze the existing hospital and said he also thought the coalition's efforts may indicate there is a problem with the hospital's application for a certificate of need, the approval of which is necessary before construction can begin.

"You've got the cart ahead of the horse," Hendershot said.

Hospital officials withdrew their original application after they were told it likely would not be approved. Hospital officials have said the new application would be submitted sometime next week.

The coalition prompted the Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to write a letter this week in support of the hospital's move to the state agency that must approve the plans before construction can begin.

The event is scheduled to be held Friday at noon in Room 142 of the Robinwood Medical Center, 11110 Medical Campus Road, which is accessible through the blue or silver entrances.

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