LAUREL – In the ongoing battle to keep Laurel Regional Hospital fully functioning and running, Laurel Mayor Craig Moe said it is “time for Dimensions Healthcare to go.” Moe called for the private health corporation’s exit from Prince George’s County and said he would like to see the hospital purchased by another company. Two months […]
LAUREL – In the ongoing battle to keep Laurel Regional Hospital fully functioning and running, Laurel Mayor Craig Moe said it is “time for Dimensions Healthcare to go.” Moe called for the private health corporation’s exit from Prince George’s County and said he would like to see the hospital purchased by another company.
Two months ago, Dimensions announced it would begin downsizing the hospital to a $24 million outpatient facility by 2018 beginning in October of this year.
A letter has been formally issued to County Executive Rushern Baker III, from Moe, expressing concern over the termination of acute care services at the Laurel hospital, saying the decision makes no sense economically and puts community health in jeopardy.
Although there has not been any action to prevent the downsize as of yet, Moe said, the process is not a “done deal.” The county executive needs to intervene in the process to generate movement.
“I don’t think it’s a done deal,” Moe said. “I wouldn’t be standing here today. Dimensions may think it’s a done deal.
“We need to get the word to our county executive. We haven’t seen our county executive. He hasn’t made a statement on it at all.”
Maryland State Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk said Dimensions made this decision “under the cover of night.” Dimensions gave no notice to county officials nor state officials, she said.
“You would think that the state delegate, I’m sitting right in front of you, the chair of the public health committee, would know,” Pena-Melnyk said.
This decision by Dimensions will affect their status for the certificate of need the organization is looking for from the state to move forward in operating the Regional Medical Center. The state will examine how the new hospital will affect service areas around them, she said, and will see the negative affect it is having on Laurel Regional Hospital.
Dimensions did not want the city and the county to organize or do anything about their decision, she said. That is “deceitful”, she said, when Dimensions, a privately owned entity, receives subsidies from Prince George’s County and the state of Maryland.
Margaret Flannery, a nurse at Laurel Regional Hospital and the creator of the maternity division at the hospital, said she had not been made aware that the hospital would be downsizing and that her unit would be terminated until the night before the decision was made.
“I’m really concerned about those patients coming in. Some of these moms coming in, you have 20 to 30 minutes to get those babies out before the quality of life is affected,” Flannery said. “If you delay them by bringing them here, trying to stabilize them and transfer them, that’s the beginning of someone’s life jeopardized. They should have transitioned this better.”
County Councilwoman Mary Lehman said next week the council will convene as the county’s board of health and will meet with Dimensions to discuss its current state. This will be the first thing she mentions in her conversation, she said.
The state, county and Dimensions created a Memorandum of Understanding, Lehman said, in 2011 that required Dimensions to share information like this with them. Dimensions has broken that memorandum and needs to adhere to it.
But before that happens, County Councilwoman Mary Lehman said the county executive needs to be involved. Baker is currently over in China looking for ways to expand business for Prince George’s County. He needs to be here taking care of issues on home soil, she said.
“It’s not clear what power (the council) has to stop that. Again, we’ve been asking for meetings with Mr. Baker. He hasn’t been responsive. He hasn’t come here. He was supposed to have a call with the mayor some weeks ago and he never called him,” Lehman said.
State Senator Jim Rosapepe (D-MD) said a piece of legislation will be brought to the general assembly this year that will require updates of operations more frequently in the future.
Rosapepe said the county and the state voted to subsidize the hospital $153 million in state funding over the last nine years.
The county has matched that amount, he said, with the agreement that Laurel Hospital would remain open even with the Regional Medical Center opening in Largo. That agreement has been broken. Until it is fixed, he said, he will not support “an additional dollar” going toward Dimensions Healthcare Systems.