BALTIMORE – County officials and healthcare leaders are celebrating the end of months of wrangling after the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) voted to approve the Certificate of Need (CON) for the new Prince George’s Regional Medical Center. At the Oct. 20 meeting, MHCC members followed the recommendation of reviewer Robert Moffit and voted to […]
BALTIMORE – County officials and healthcare leaders are celebrating the end of months of wrangling after the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) voted to approve the Certificate of Need (CON) for the new Prince George’s Regional Medical Center.
At the Oct. 20 meeting, MHCC members followed the recommendation of reviewer Robert Moffit and voted to issue the CON, which is the formal document giving the state’s blessing for the project to move forward. The vote was 11-0 in favor of the measure, with one abstention.
County and state officials worked for years to make the hospital a reality, and on Oct. 21 they gathered at the hospital’s future site in Largo – the current Boulevard at the Capital Centre, at the corner of Arena Drive and Lottsford Road – to celebrate the awarding of the CON.
County Executive Rushern Baker, III, who made securing the hospital one of his goals during his first campaign in 2010, said he is thrilled with what the new hospital will mean for Prince Georgians.
“I don’t want anybody ever in Prince George’s County, and in the southern region, to think that they have to go elsewhere for quality healthcare,” he said. “I don’t want it to be a thought. I want the thought to be for those who are currently going elsewhere to come here. I want the thought to be for people in D.C. and Virginia to try to map a way here to downtown Largo.”
County Council Chair Derrick Davis, who represents Largo, also said the new medical center will improve lives here in the county.
“You guys know, if you know me, as the councilmember who represents this district, how much I love this opportunity,” he said. “It really heartens me to have the opportunity, right in the center of Prince George’s County, to build what is essentially a generational, transformational reality. When you look at this hospital, this regional medical center, you see the heart of Maryland beginning to pump very vibrantly.”
Last Thursday’s vote by the MHCC was the last step in a contentious process. In January 2015, Dimensions Health Corporation and Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital applied to MHCC to construct a new, teaching hospital to replace the aging Prince George’s Hospital Center (PGHC) in Cheverly. Then, state legislators, with county support, had to fight for money to be included in the governor’s budget for the project.
Initially, Moffit, too, had expressed reservations about the project’s cost, which was more than $630 million, stating he would be unable to approve the plan unless it were lowered. In response, planners re-submitted a proposal that kept construction costs to $543 million, which Moffit said he was willing to support.
Moffit had also cited concerns about the hospital’s governance, considering Dimensions has faced questions about its ability to fiscally manage its existing facilities. But he said the partnership with the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), and the transition to UMMS of responsibility for running the hospital, which he said had been explained “in exhausting detail,” gave him confidence.
“The long-term financial viability of this facility will ultimately be dependent on management,” Moffit said. “UMMS, I am absolutely certain, will do its part to improve performance.”
Neil Moore, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Dimensions Healthcare System, said last Friday that the partnership between Dimensions and UMMS has already begun, with their physicians in the emergency, cardiac surgery and orthopedics departments at PGHC.
“Clearly, this transformation has started already. Now it’s time for us to move full throttle with this milestone. Exciting opportunities are before us,” Moore said.
UMMS officials also attended the celebration and said they look forward to working with the county and helping its residents.
“Your partners here in the University of Maryland are all in. We think in many ways this is the dawn of a whole new era of healthcare in Prince George’s County,” Robert Chrencik, president and CEO of UMMS, said. “We pledge to the people of Prince George’s County and the surrounding area to deliver the best that we have, both in optimal patient care as well as being a responsible steward of your resources here.”
John Ashworth, senior vice president for network development at UMMS, offered a vision of what the new regional medical center would be like. The CON approves the 205-bed inpatient tower, operating rooms, an emergency room with a trauma center, two other buildings for ambulatory care, a generating station and a parking garage.
He said the plan allows the hospital and its facilities to grow in the future, expanding everything from inpatient capacity to spaces in the garage and adding medical offices and other health sciences buildings to the campus.
The county sees this new teaching hospital as the anchor of a revitalized “downtown Largo,” centered around the Largo Town Center Metro station. Baker said his vision is for the hospital to spark additional transit-oriented development. To help it along, he is planning to relocate the county government to Largo as well.
“Not only will we have a regional medical center, but surrounding the development of the mall that you sit in right here will be totally different – mixed use, housing, right here. And to make sure there’s a downtown Largo, we’re moving the (County Administration Building) right across the street so we can now have the critical mass right here in the center of Prince George’s County,” he said.
An interim management board for PGHC under UMMS will be formed in March, if not earlier. Then, groundbreaking on the hospital could begin by summer 2017. The Prince George’s Regional Medical Center is expected to be up and running by 2020.