Hamill meets with civic group

August 13, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

Washington County Hospital's proposed move was the topic for discussion at a Thursday night meeting near Downsville.

At the Downsville Ruritan Club building, Washington County Health System President and CEO James Hamill talked about the plans to build a new hospital at a site off Robinwood Drive, replacing the current East Antietam Street site.

Then Hamill took questions from the group of about 15 people who had come to the meeting, which was organized by the Citizens for the Protection of Washington County.

Joe Lane, 40, of Smithsburg, said after the meeting that he still had concerns, including traffic.

"I think that he may have made a case that a new hospital may be more cost-effective ... (There was) no case that Robinwood is the best site."


"It's a bad site and the taxpayers are going to get stuck paying ... for the upgrades so the ambulance doesn't get stuck in traffic," Lane said.

In response to questions about traffic, Hamill said the health system, which owns and operates the hospital, would pay for some road improvements.

Charlotte Levens, 79, lives in the Francis Murphy Apartments off Robinwood Drive, not be far from the proposed site for the hospital.

Levens said she was satisfied with what she heard.

"There's been a lot of study and a lot of consultation. ... I have faith in what's being done," Levens said.

And while Levens said she doesn't like the idea of loud ambulances screaming by her home, she said "I don't think (Hamill) has forgotten about the community."

Barbara Hovermill, 62, lives near Downsville. She also had asked Hamill several questions.

After the meeting wrapped up, Hovermill said "most of (Hamill's answers) were satisfactory. I don't think all of them were."

Hovermill had asked why large city hospitals could expand at their site, but Washington County Hospital could not. She said Hamill's answer - which was, in part, that this was the most cost-effective solution - was not what she wanted to hear.

Hospital administrators began planning the move more than four years ago, but several government procedures still must take place before the hospital can move.

One of those is approval of the plans by The Maryland Health Care Commission. Without approval from that agency, the hospital cannot obtain the necessary financing to pay for the project.

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