Robinwood residents must be wary

February 11, 2006|By Bob and Sally Hatch

To the editor:

We are members of Citizens for Responsible Health Care, residents of the "neighborhood" around the proposed new hospital site, and senior citizens concerned about the future of affordable medical care in the Hagerstown area. We have watched the issues unfold about the proposed geographical merger of two medical corporations and have a major concern about costs, that center on the for-profit and not-for-profit disparity between the two organizations.

It is not our intention to present all the facts about this issue or even to act as experts on the topic. Rather, we wish to raise questions, solicit information from those who are experts, and thus create an enlightened citizenry more able to deal with the complicated economics of medical care.

We have recently had need to use the facilities of Robinwood Medical Center, which we commend for their attitudes, facilities, and overall comportment. However, being relatively new residents of the community, we were surprised by the need to pay first and be treated second.


We were able to meet that requirement; however, it now comes to us that others may not be as fortunate as we. This realization becomes critical in light of the proposed co-location of Washington County Hospital and Robinwood Medical Center.

Hospital management has touted an advantage to the co-location in the "already existing" diagnostic equipment and laboratories at the present medical center. The anticipated advantage would be that expenditures would not be required to create duplicative services in the new hospital.

We agree, and it seems most acceptable at first blush. However, this advantage needs to be re-evaluated in light of the for-profit versus nonprofit missions of the two medical agencies, and several other complicated issues that might arise from any attempted operating synergy.

We don't have the answers, but we solicit those in the positions of administration in those agencies to provide us with assurances and peace of mind. How will the advantage of already existing X-rays, MRIs, blood labs, etc. be handled for people who don't have cash or credit cards in their pockets, or a benevolent insurance program with little/no deductible applicable or are low/no income?

Will persons in these categories have equal access to diagnostic services if the new hospital doesn't duplicate such services? Will the hospital be forced to recreate these services at the new location, with all the attendant great costs? Or will Robinwood Medical Center take on a charitable role with respect to such services?

Therefore, we seek the following:

1. To the medical community: How will billing be handled when a hospital patient (emergency or otherwise) needs the services of the medical center?

2. To the news community: Help us investigate the facts in this matter, and inform the citizens of the possible water-and-oil situation involved in the co-location.

3. To the citizens, stay alert, share your concerns about this matter, and let everyone know that we are all concerned.

Bob and Sally Hatch


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