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From the beginning

February 27, 2005

The following is a timeline of events surrounding Washington County Health System's plans to build a new hospital on a site near Robinwood Medical Center.

- Nov. 16, 2001: Washington County Health System President and CEO James Hamill announces the nonprofit corporation's decision to pursue options of building a replacement for its hospital.

- Nov. 14, 2002: Hospital officials announce their site selection committee's decision to recommend a move to the Robinwood site. Mayor William M. Breichner says "it's still common sense to keep it in downtown Hagerstown."

- June 23, 2003: Hospital officials submit to the Maryland Health Care Commission their first certificate of need application, detailing a $187 million project. Without commission approval, the hospital cannot be built.

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- July 15, 2003: City administration initiates dispute of hospital claims by hiring outside experts. Retained are Baltimore law firm Funk & Bolton P.A. at a rate of $200 an hour, as well as health-care expert Hal Cohen at a rate of $250 an hour. Cohen's subcontractor, Andrew Solberg, will be paid a rate of $165 an hour.

- Oct. 27, 2003: A contentious public meeting between the Hagerstown City Council and hospital officials is the last meeting between the two sets of officials for six months.

- April 7, 2004: In the midst of hospital officials' accusations of delay tactics on the part of city officials, the city releases information that it has spent $284,735 through March on its retained experts. A later update pushes the expenditures to $292,630.

- April 20, 2004: The City Council agrees to meet with hospital officials. Breichner later sets a closed meeting between hospital officials and the City Council to begin working out issues.

- May 3, 2004: In a second closed meeting, city officials hand Hamill a list of 17 "requirements," although city officials later call them requests or proposals. While hospital officials later agree to work on some of the original requirements, many are dismissed.

- May 7, 2004: Maryland Health Care Commission officials lay out problems with the hospital's application, including a financing plan that does not meet state standards.

- May 13, 2004: The hospital withdraws application for a certificate of need, avoiding what could be a costly one-year delay resulting from a commission vote to deny the certificate of need.

- Sept. 10, 2004: The hospital submits a revised certificate of need. The revised project now is a $233 million project.

- Nov. 9, 2004: After months of staff-level negotiations, City Council rejects "best and final" offer by hospital officials on annexation deal. Hospital officials say the monetary value of the deal was $26 million, including road and water and sewer improvement costs, although city officials reject it mainly on the basis of a zoning issue and say the value was overestimated.

- Dec. 13, 2004: City officials file renewed disputes of hospital claims with the Health Care Commission. The council authorized a $5,000 spending cap on the measure, again using Funk & Bolton.

- No date set: The Health Care Commission is reviewing the plans, with a January cost projection of $234 million. Commission Interim Executive Director Pamela Barclay says no hearing date has been set for the case, but the commission would not decide the case before April.

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