Doing what's best for your health

February 19, 2006|By Robert C. Stift

To the citizens of Washington County,

The Washington County Health System Board of Directors thanks everyone in our community who has supported the building of a new hospital at Robinwood Medical Center.

The board is committed to moving forward on this project because it is essential to the health of each and every individual in our region and to the well being of our community.

Let me explain why. It is the board's oversight responsibility to ensure that well-qualified doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers are available to care for our patients. In addition, it is the board's responsibility to make sure that they have the best possible tools to deliver healthcare to our patients. A new hospital is a tool that will help them provide the quality of healthcare that Washington County citizens deserve.


Since we first announced our intention to open a new hospital at Robinwood, we have worked with architects, engineers and others whose expertise is building health care facilities that serve our current needs and can meet the future requirements for space and technology. The Washington County Health System board of directors has engaged them to design and build the most practical and efficient medical center possible.

We have successfully obtained a Certificate of Need from the Maryland Health Care Commission. The commission agreed that the new hospital was needed, that it is financially feasible, and that it should be built at the Robinwood site. We also received permission for rate increases from the Health Services Cost Review Commission. Even with the increase, we will be among the lowest cost hospitals in Maryland.

We met stringent reviews in the face of continuous opposition. Now, we have moved from the level of state review and approval to the local level. We appreciate Washington County Board of Commissioners for designating this as a fast-track project.

In recent months, we have achieved two more milestones. The first is the approval by the Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to locate the replacement hospital at Robinwood. Even though the BZA decision was appealed, the health system is continuing with this important project.

The second is the approval by the Washington County Planning Commission of the hospital site plans. The health system is confident that permits to begin construction will be issued soon.

There are still two important project issues to be resolved. One is a water and sewer transfer agreement between the Washington County Board of Commissioners and the City of Hagerstown.

The other issue is to finalize, with the help of the county, the water and sewer infrastructure with the city.

The health system board believes that it is imperative to begin construction of the new hospital now. The only thing the appeal - which could take two or three years - can do is increase the cost of the project significantly. Because the costs of construction and advanced medical technologies are increasing daily, we need to act soon. In addition, the financial markets are favorable to us now and provide several good options. So we must take advantage of this opportunity and move ahead.

When all is said and done about the new hospital project, it comes down to just one goal: doing what is best for your health, for your family's health, and for the health of our community. I am sure you would not want it any other way.

Robert C. Stift is chairman of the Washington County Health System Board of Directors.

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