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Talk of the Town

Where do you think hospital should be built?

Where do you think hospital should be built?

November 28, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY and WANDA WILLIAMS

martinsburg@herald-mail.com
wandaw@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Many area residents asked Saturday about the city's fight to keep Washington County Hospital within Hagerstown's city limits said moving the hospital would offer more parking and convenience.

Some, though, were concerned about how relocating the hospital could affect the city's poorer residents and those who do not drive.

The city has scrutinized and criticized the project since the hospital announced in November 2001 that it would move from East Antietam Street to Robinwood Drive in 2006 or 2007. The city objected and tried to fight the move, including spending about $300,000 on legal and health-care experts.

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The Maryland Health Care Commission is reviewing the hospital's application for a certificate of need. The total cost, including improvements, has been estimated at $233 million.

"It makes more sense for me (for the hospital) to be in Robinwood," said Judith Eardley, 64, of Halfway.

Eardley was feeding ice cream to her grandson - who was born at Washington County Hospital.

"Downtown it's very limited," she said. "They're locked into that area. They can't really grow."

She called the city's actions "a bunch of nonsense."

Ginny Neisser, 61, of Maugansville, said moving the hospital would be more convenient.

"Everything else is out there at the Robinwood (Drive location.) There will be parking out there," she said.

David Blosser, 57, of Hagerstown, said he thinks the city is going to lose its fight to keep the hospital downtown. He said the present site is limiting.

"Unless they make major renovations to how you get in or out of the hospital. ... I think it's real inconvenient to get in or out of the hospital," Blosser said.

An idea to possibly buy and raze adjacent properties to expand the hospital could prove more expensive in the long run than relocating it, he said.

Some shoppers would comment about the issue but would not give their names. One such woman is a volunteer with The Maryland Theatre.

"I'd rather the city spend money cleaning up downtown Hagerstown, especially around The Maryland Theatre," the woman, of Maugansville, said. "I'd rather the city spend more money for more police protection down there and quit worrying about the hospital."

A possible compromise could be keeping an emergency room open downtown, she said.

Garry and Linda Augustein, of Clear Spring, said they have a son who does not drive.

"The people who have to walk to it really can't afford a cab to get to Robinwood," Garry Augustein, 61, said.

The couple said they think the hospital should stay where it is and another one should open nearby. The region's growing population likely could support two hospitals, they said.

When Tonia Murphy, 34, of Clear Spring, recently took her son to a doctor's office in Robinwood she was told he needed to go to the emergency room.

Having the hospital there would have been convenient, she said.

"The location that they want to put it really would be an ideal location," said Murphy, who like many others, said a new site would offer better parking.

"I believe that we need to expand the parking," said Michelle Bartlett, 36, of Hagerstown. "It's a really hard time to get a parking space. I think (a new location) would be convenient to everyone."

Not all agree.

"Both sides, I think, have valid points," said Crystal Wolford, 39, of Hagerstown.

"It's more convenient for the people who have money," said Wolford. She wondered if the hospital could work out some kind of deal with cab companies for patients who cannot afford to take a cab to the planned new site.

Wolford acknowledged that there seems to be no place in town to build a new hospital and that better facilities would be nice.

Shoppers in the Wal-Mart parking lot who were asked about the hospital echoed similar opinions as those questioned at the mall.

"I think it makes perfect sense to have everything centrally located - to have everything located in one area instead of having to send people to different areas of the community," Carolyn Riggins, of Boonsboro, said.

"What little I know about it, I think it sounds like a good idea to move," said Dawn King, also of Boonsboro.

"I'm mixed, I don't want to hold progress back. But it might be more economical for them to stay where they are," said Phil Physioc, 44, of Hagerstown.

His wife, Roberta Physioc, 35, was concerned about another empty building.

"Yes, the city should fight to keep the hospital downtown. Otherwise, there will be one more ghost building left downtown," she said.

Tammy Robinson, 43, Hagerstown, said the present site is best.

"I just think there's enough out at Robinwood now, and it's more convenient for people in town that need emergency care to get to the hospital," Robinson said.

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