LARGO – Despite uniform positivity from Prince George’s County officials regarding the proposed Regional Medical Center, some in the state question exactly how beneficial the hospital will be. The Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) continues to review Dimensions Healthcare System’s certificate of need for the medical center, but representatives from the Anne Arundel Medical Center […]
LARGO – Despite uniform positivity from Prince George’s County officials regarding the proposed Regional Medical Center, some in the state question exactly how beneficial the hospital will be.
The Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) continues to review Dimensions Healthcare System’s certificate of need for the medical center, but representatives from the Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) and Doctors Community Hospital (DCH), which is located in Prince George’s County, said the project could hurt their services.
The people of Prince George’s County deserve a “modern and vibrant” health care delivery system in their community, said Jonathan Montgomery, a lawyer representing the AAMC, said in a letter to Paul E. Parker, the director for health care facilities planning and development at the MHCC. However, the full viability of the facility must be vetted.
The AAMC and DCH are both considered parties of interest, according to their representatives, to the certificate-of-need process for the medical center because they are all authorized to provide the same services while sharing common borders and service areas.
“AAMC provides acute care hospital services and the application (filed by Dimensions) concerns acute care hospital services,” Montgomery said. “Further, AAMC is in the Baltimore and Upper Shore health planning region, which is contiguous with the project’s proposed location in the Southern Maryland health planning region.”
Montgomery said Prince George’s County’s current hospital center draws patients from Anne Arundel County, Montgomery said, and includes Severn in its service area. The proposed Regional Medical Center is closer to the AAMC, he said.
“The application does not demonstrate that Marylanders would be better served by the establishment of the new Prince George’s Regional Medical Center rather than by substantial investments in the health care delivery system in Prince George’s County,” Montgomery said.
Because of a shortage of practitioners in Prince George’s County, he said, it is “doubtful” that the medical center can become viable as a $650 million, 215-bed hospital without investing in ambulatory care and primary care.
Peter Parvis, the legal representative for DCH, said, the application overestimates the facility’s ability to bring Prince George’s County residents who receive care outside of the county back into the county, its financial projections are flawed and it does not consider “better and cheaper” available alternatives for health care services.
“Simply put, the CON application lacks relevant and important detail required under Maryland law for approval of a project of this magnitude,” Parvis said. “The modified application should assure that the Prince George’s Regional Medical Center is cost-effective and financially feasible and that DCH can continue to be financially viable once it is operational.”
According to Pamela Creekmur, a health officer at the Prince George’s County Health Department, the new Regional Medical Center is necessary because of the services it will provide as a teaching and research facility that current smaller facilities in the county cannot provide.
“The Regional Medical Center is critical to the creation and stability of a strong primary care and specialty care physician network that will assist in preventing unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations,” Creekmur said.
The behavioral health care system in the county also needs improvement, Creekmur said, and the center will provide mental health services for county residents.
“As a health department, we are concerned with the viability of all county hospitals,” Creekmur said. “Our current facilities are small community hospitals struggling to meet the demands of our community and do not have the capacity to produce the required outcomes to save costs and improve outcomes.”
The current Prince George’s Hospital Center is already a “high-charge hospital,” Parvis said, and the Regional Medical Center’s costs will only increase. The current hospital center’s charge per case is $16,319, he said, which is 22.1 percent above DCH’s charge per case. That percentage will rise to 30.7 percent with incremental increases noted in the certificate of need application.
“Given the new model’s requirement to reduce Maryland’s cost and utilization on a per capita basis, this project goes in the wrong direction,” Parvis said.
Though the certificate of need submitted by Dimensions Healthcare has not been approved as of yet, the Prince George’s County District Council is currently reviewing the Regional Medical Center’s detailed site plan. It will discuss the matter on July 20, according to Councilman Derrick Leon Davis.
In April, Dimensions Healthcare President Neil J. Moore said he is confident the certificate of need will be approved by the MHCC. Dimensions originally submitted the certificate in October 2013. The MHCC docketed the certificate in April.
“We are optimistic that our CON application will be approved so that we can achieve our vision of transforming health care in this region and improving our service to communities,” Moore said.
When considering the wealth of the Prince George’s County community and how many health disparities there are, Creekmur said, the Regional Medical Center becomes an undebatable topic. Residents have been asking for more health options within the county, she said, so that they do not have to leave to obtain quality health care services the Regional Medical Center will present them.
“The Regional Medical Center is vital to improving the quality of life within our community and will help us address health disparities and improve access to quality health care for our residents,” Creekmur said.