Update given on new Regional Medical Center

November 17, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Washington County Hospital's chief nursing officer answered questions about the new Regional Medical Center and the future of the current hospital site Monday at a free seminar hosted by the Seniors and Law Enforcement Together Council of Washington County at the AMVETS Post 10 building.

Construction is "basically on schedule" at the new hospital site adjacent to Robinwood Medical Center, Mary Towe said. The hospital is scheduled to open in December 2010, she said.

Several agencies have toured the current hospital, including some with an interest in using it for a nursing home, but the facility would require extensive work to be brought up to code, Towe said.

"The infrastructure there is so old that most of the people who have come to talk to us have said, 'It just won't work,'" she said.


Hospital officials think the site holds potential for housing development and included more than $3 million for demolition in the budget for the new hospital project, Towe said.

"What we are committed to is returning it to green space if there isn't a ready buyer, so that it is an attractive area that can be returned back to the community," she said.

Other topics brought up at Monday's forum included the new hospital's rates, visiting hours and policy on treating inmates.

Towe said the hospital's rates will go up because of the project, but the hospital will remain one of the lowest-cost hospitals in the state.

Visiting hours have not been established for the new hospital, she said. Because of the focus on patient-centered care in the new facility, the hospital wants to provide flexibility to allow visits according to patient needs, she said.

With regard to inmate care, Towe said inmates currently are treated throughout the hospital, but the hospital's ultimate goal is provide only emergency care to inmates and send them to a secure location in Baltimore for all other care.

Seniors at Monday's forum praised the hospital's decision to make all patient rooms private, sharing stories about incompatible roommates and the anxiety caused by sharing a hospital room with a stranger.

The switch to single-occupant rooms should also lower the hospital's infection rate and allow the hospital to utilize more of its beds, Towe said.

Towe invited any community group interested in hosting a presentation on the new hospital to contact the hospital's public relations director, Maureen Theriault, at or at 301-790-8950.

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