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Live chat with James Hamill - transcript

President & CEO of Washington County Health Systems

President & CEO of Washington County Health Systems

August 23, 2005

The Herald-Mail will present a live chat with James Hamill, President & CEO of Washington County Health Systems, starting at 1:00 pm and ending at 2:00 pm today. Questions or comments can be submitted by clicking here before and during the chat.

The text of the live discussion will flow into the bottom of this page during its live hour. You can either click "Refresh" on your browser window or hit "F5" on your keyboard to see new responses. Make sure you scroll down to see the latest answers.




Name: Pat Kochera

Location: Hagerstown

Guest: Hamill

Question: Hello,

Could you explain to me what the "Hospitalist" do and how they take charge over your own health care provider?

I encountered an issue over the past few days in which my husbands Dr wanted him admitted and was overturned by the "hospitalist".

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Mr. Hamill: The hospitalist program is very new to Washington County Hospital. We instituted it this past Spring and it has made a major difference in how we provide care to our community. Hospitalists work full time taking care of in-patients at our hospital. There are hospitalists on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the hospital. That is all they do. This allows the physicians in private practice to stay in their office and see more patients on an outpatient basis.

Without knowing the specifics of your husband's situation, it would be very difficult to comment other than that the hospitalist may have had more information on what would have been a suitable admission.




Name: ed

Location: hagerstown

Guest: Hamill

Question: MR HAMILL

COULD YOU TELL US WHY YOU WOULD WANT TO BUILD A NEW HOSPITAL,WHEN YOU HAVE DRS. QUITTING LEFT AND RIGHT AND YOUR PRESENT HOSPITAL IS FULL OF CONTRACT NURSES INSTEAD OF LOCAL NURSES AND ISN'T IT TRUE YOU AND WASHINTON COUNTY HEALTH SYSTEM HAVE A MEDICAL MONOPOLY IN WASHINGTON COUNTY?

Mr. Hamill: There are a number of issues to address here. First of all, we have seen some physicians leave the community. This is because of retirement, the medical malpractice issue, or other opportunties they choose to pursue. At the same time, it is important to recognize that more physicians are coming to the community than leaving. Just this past year, we surpassed 300 physicians on our medical staff. Regarding the nursing situation, the statement is just simply not true. Washington County Hospital has a vacancy rate for nursing of less than 4% while the average across-the-state is more than double that. We do use some agency nurses to supplement our existing staff but the number on average is 7 to 8 daily while we have over 700 individuals in our nursing department.

As far as the need for a new hospital, I believe that has been demonstrated clearly through the certificate of need process, which was concluded this past June. With the changes in health care delivery, new technologies, and the growth in our community, our current facility is simply not adequate for the future.

One of the real opportunities that we have in this region is that our health care system provides the full continuum of care on both an outpatient and inpatient basis. No where else I know of offers this level of care coordination to a community. If you think about the dangers to a monopoly, they lie primarily in its ability to affect pricing and therefore profit. We are very proud of the fact that of the 48 hospitals in Maryland, Washington County Hospital ranks lowest in terms of cost. I believe that this is directly attributable to our having a system of care such as we do.




Name: J. Michael Nye

Location: Hagerstown

Guest: Hamill

Question: Why do you believe that the zoning exception required to build the new hospital at Robinwood is not a major road block in moving this project along? The original zoning exception approving the development of the Medical Campus at Robinwood stated that an acute care facility could not be built at this location and also contained other conditions that would prohibit locating a hospital at this location.

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