New hospital opens Saturday

December 08, 2010

20 questions about the move to Meritus

At 6 a.m. on Saturday, the new Meritus Medical Center will officially open for business, and the hospital staff will begin a carefully planned one-day move that includes the transport of as many as 200 patients by ambulance from Washington County Hospital in downtown Hagerstown to the new medical center next to Robinwood Professional Center.

At the same time, movers will be transporting furniture and equipment between the two facilities, so drivers should anticipate heavier-than-usual traffic along the route between the two sites, said Nicole Jovel, public relations coordinator for Washington County Hospital.

For those whose interaction with the hospital extends beyond sharing the same roads, Jovel rounded up answers to the following 20 questions posed by the Herald Mail about moving day and the new Meritus Medical Center:

Q. Are the phone numbers for the hospital changing?
A. No. As before, to inquire about a patient call 301-790-8000.

Q. Where is Meritus Medical Center, and how do I get there?
A. Meritus is at 11116 Medical Campus Road, Hagerstown, Md., next to Robinwood Professional Center. It can be accessed by turning from Robinwood Drive onto Medical Campus Road and following it past the Robinwood entrances, or by taking Yale Drive to its dead end and turning right onto Medical Campus Road.

Q. Where should I go if I need emergency care on the day of the move?
A. After 6 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11, all emergencies should report to Meritus Medical Center instead of Washington County Hospital.

Q. What are visiting hours on the day of the move?
A. Visiting hours on Saturday, Dec. 11 begin at 7 p.m. at Meritus Medical Center. Visitors will not be permitted at Washington County Hospital that day.

Q. What will regular visitor hours be after the move?
A. Beginning Sunday, Dec. 12, visiting hours will be 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, we ask that on Sunday, Dec. 12, individuals without specific health needs, a loved one to visit, or business at the hospital refrain from visiting the facility to allow staff to concentrate on caring for our patients and getting settled in to our new environment.

Q. Are tours available?
A. Due to patient privacy laws, it is extremely difficult for us to open up our facility to tours. However, the cafeteria is open to the public, and there are times that we do accommodate special tours, such as an operating room open house held once a year.

Q. At what time on Saturday will the hospital begin moving patients from the old hospital to the new one, and how long is that expected to take?
A. The transfer of patients from Washington County Hospital to Meritus Medical Center will begin at 6 a.m. We anticipate being finished by mid to late afternoon.

Q. How many patients will be moved?
A. We are estimating between 150 and 200 patients.

Q. If I have a family member who is being moved from the old hospital to the new one, can I ride along in the ambulance?
A. Family members may not accompany patients while they are being transferred to Meritus Medical Center unless the patient is under the age of 18. One parent or guardian may travel with pediatric, special care nursery and newborn patients.

Q. If my family member is being transferred, how will I know how to find him or her after the move?
A. Move ambassadors will call families to confirm the safe transfer of loved ones and to provide their new room assignment and phone number.

Q. In what order will patients be moved?
A. We will begin at 6 a.m. with patients in the progressive care unit. The sequence is progressive care, observation unit, 8E medical surgical, 7E medical surgical, critical care, orthopedics/neuro/trauma, rehab and joints, bariatric surgery, women’s medical surgical, pediatrics, labor and delivery, special care nursery, behavioral health services.

Q. Will all patients be moved on Saturday, regardless of their conditions?
A. Yes, all patients will be moved on Saturday, Dec. 11. Once all patients have been transferred from Washington County Hospital to Meritus Medical Center, Washington County Hospital will close for business.

Q. How will the hospital move patients who are on life-sustaining devices, such as premature babies?
A. Every ambulance we will utilize during the patient move is equipped with Advanced Life Support equipment and personnel with experience in caring for critically ill patients.

Q. What outside companies are helping with the move, and what are their roles?
A. The moving company, Graebel, will manage the physical move of equipment, supplies and furniture. Butler Ambulance Service is providing 15 ambulances and LifeStar is providing 15 ambulances to complete the patient transfer. There are also a multitude of other vendors working with specific pieces of equipment, and we have a few staff members from Valley Health and Western Maryland Regional Medical Center who will assist with clinical engineering on the day of the move.

Q. Will there be increased security during the move?
A. Yes, security will be increased during the move. It will also be increased at Meritus Medical Center in general. For example, if you are visiting a loved one in the women's and children's area at Meritus Medical Center, anyone 14 years and older must have a photo ID. Children under the age of 14 visiting this area must be accompanied by an adult with a photo ID. This is required to protect the safety and privacy of our patients.

Q. Will there be shuttle service within the parking lot at Meritus Medical Center?
A. We do not have plans for a shuttle servicing the parking lot at Meritus Medical Center. There is ample handicapped parking, and the parking lots are at grade and adjacent to the facility, in comparison to parking at Washington County Hospital. There are also more parking spaces overall at Meritus Medical Center.

Q. Is smoking allowed anywhere on the Meritus Medical Center property?
A. No. Meritus Medical Center is a non-smoking campus.

Q. Medicare Part A covers only “semiprivate” hospital rooms, unless a private room is medically necessary. Does this mean Medicare will not cover my stay at Meritus, where every room is private?
A. We will no longer have different rates for private versus semiprivate room as they will all be single rooms at Meritus Medical Center. Medicare has recognized that single patient rooms promote infection control, safety, and the reduction of medical errors. At Meritus Medical Center, where every room is a single room, patients will not be charged or penalized for use of a premium single room.

Q. Is Meritus Medical Center a hospital?
A. Yes, it is an acute-care hospital.

Q. Has an alternative use been found for the old hospital?
A. A final determination for the Washington County Hospital property has not yet been made.

If an alternate use has not been found by Dec. 11, 2011, the hospital must be demolished, Washington County Health System President and CEO James P. Hamill has said. Hamill said in December that no one had come forward with an interest in the building, and the health system’s energies had been focused on opening Meritus Medical Center, not marketing the old hospital property.
 — Compiled by Heather Keels

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