LAUREL – Laurel residents and officials are heading to Annapolis on Nov. 17 to stand at the state house and announce their displeasure they with Dimensions Healthcare’s decision to close down their hospital. Both citizens and officials alike from Laurel have been sounding off on how they have not received support from many county officials […]
LAUREL – Laurel residents and officials are heading to Annapolis on Nov. 17 to stand at the state house and announce their displeasure they with Dimensions Healthcare’s decision to close down their hospital.
Both citizens and officials alike from Laurel have been sounding off on how they have not received support from many county officials on keeping their hospital running, but County Executive Rushern Baker III finally met with Laurel Mayor Craig Moe on the issue.
Since Dimensions Healthcare announced the downsizing of the Laurel Regional Hospital into an outpatient ambulatory care facility, Moe has been a vocal proponent to the plan as well as Dimensions.
Moe asked for Baker’s help in keeping the hospital running in its current capacity, but until last week he had not heard from the county executive.
“We’re putting together a work group,” Baker said. “I just want to let you know (Moe) is on the job.”
Moe said the chance to work with Baker to correct the issues with the hospital is a welcome opportunity. He will be working along with the Baker administration to come up with a plan benefiting Laurel residents, as well as Northern Prince George’s County.
This effort will bring citizens “the healthcare they deserve,” Moe said. He looks forward to working with Baker and will welcome future opportunities to work with him with “cooperation.”
“If we can have an open dialogue, the ones who will really benefit are the residents of Laurel and Northern Prince George’s County,” Moe says.
Already, 116 employees have been fired from the hospital. Dimensions, which is a private entity, operates the hospital. They announced their plan to downsize in July and have already closed the Maternal and Child Health Care ward of the hospital.
President Neji Moore previously said at a county council meeting that the decision to downsize the hospital was made for cutting costs. Under the current plan, the hospital would downsize and cost just $24 million by 2018. The hospital has cost Dimensions $108 million over the last 10 years.
The healthcare workers’ union, SEIU 1199, filed suit in Prince George’s County Circuit Court seeking a temporary restraining order injunction to prevent the hospital’s downsize.
The lawsuit filed claims Dimensions is in violation of a lease agreement in accordance to Prince George’s County’s charter. A county resolution states county health facilities may not close or substantially reduce services without written approval from the county council.
“Dimensions is obligated to provide the services provided at Laurel Regional Hospital at the time the county and Dimensions entered into a lease agreement for the county hospital system,” the complaint said.
Moe is not the only public official voicing his displeasure. State Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk previously said, at a public forum in Laurel, that they are calling for Governor Larry Hogan’s help along with the state because of Dimension’s lack of transparency about the closure.
No one knows how the closure happened, she said, and they still do not understand the process of how Dimensions made their decision.
As a nine-year member of the state health committee, Pena-Melnyk said she regularly had contact with Dimensions and they never brought up the closure.
“Our community needs transparency and more information about how the decision to close Laurel Regional Hospital was made,” Pena-Melnyk said.
State delegate Jim Rosapepe previously said that because the hospital is funded by citizens’ tax dollars, it should not be closed down if they do not want it to. He will not support another dollar going to Dimensions, he said, if Laurel Regional Hospital is closed down.
Community members were not happy with the announced downsizing as well. Karen Coakley, a member of the Beltsville Citizens Association in the northern part of the county, said the north county’s healthcare services are being shut out.
“South County has two hospitals. The central part of the county has two hospitals and an emergency room,” Coakley said. “You’re going to stiff the northern part of the county with zip, zilch, zero, nada. No hospital.”’
Paula Adams, a Laurel resident and a plaintiff in the case, said the loss will be especially devastating to her as an 81-year-old. Laurel Regional Hospital is where she gets her primary care.
“I’m 81-years-old and Laurel Regional is my medical home where I see my cardiologist and orthopedist,” Adams said. “I don’t know what I would do without the staff and services there.”