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Four seek status to question plans to move hospital

December 14, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The state's largest insurer, the City of Hagerstown, a citizens group and a small county business have filed to seek quasi-legal status to question Washington County Hospital's plans to move, a state official said Monday.

Monday was the deadline to seek "interested party" status in the state review of the hospital's $233 million bid to move from East Antietam Street to a site near Robinwood Medical Center.

The agency reviewing the hospital plans, the Maryland Health Care Commission, will decide whether the plans can proceed. Without Health Care Commission approval, construction cannot begin.

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Interested party status is generally reserved for groups or businesses with financial or other vested interests in the Health Care Commission's decisions, said Pamela Barclay, the commission's interim executive director. Those organizations must show they have a reason to contest the case.

One of the agency's commissioners will be appointed to decide which, if any, of the groups will be granted the special status, Barclay said.

Aside from the city, the groups that applied for the special status include: CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Citizens for the Protection of Washington County and Marketing Logistics International Inc., Barclay said.

This is hospital officials' second attempt to gain approval for the plans from the state agency. The first attempt began in June 2003 and ended in May when hospital officials withdrew their application for a certificate of need - the official document the state reviews.

In the first attempt, the City of Hagerstown was the only interested party. The city spent about $300,000 on experts to contest hospital claims.

It is almost certain that the addition of any interested parties to the hospital's case will lengthen the time it takes for the state to complete its review.

Citizens for the Protection of Washington County (CPWC) has about 35 paying members, and a contact list of previous members of about 150, said James Laird, president of the group.

Marketing Logistics International, which has two full-time employees, is a consulting firm that specializes in automated delivery processes, said its president, J. Michael Nye. Nye is a member of CPWC and a former executive director of Community Rescue Service, the city's main ambulance company.

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