CHEVERLY – The University of Maryland Laurel Regional Hospital received permission on Sept. 20 to convert its current facility into a state-of-the-art structure with far more healthcare services available to residents in the Laurel area.
The new and improved hospital will be known as UM Laurel Medical Center and sit at the corner of Van Dusen and Contee Road. The center is expected to have 20 emergency room treatment bays, 10 adult observation beds, two operating rooms, a pharmacy and laboratory, according to an overview on the University of Maryland Capital Region Health website.
Construction on the new facility is scheduled to begin in winter 2019 and will reach completion in spring 2021.
Laurel Regional Hospital is in the process of transferring inpatient medical/surgical units and inpatient behavioral health services to UM Prince George’s Hospital Center, per a University of Maryland Capital Region Health press release.
Existing chronic care and inpatient rehabilitation units have already been relocated to the Prince George’s Center.
The center will still provide emergency services, but will begin to shift its focus into more expansive offerings for local residents, said Laurel Regional Hospital Interim President Dr. Trudy Hall.
“It’s really changing the focus of that community to more preventative (care) and wellness management,” Hall said. “If you do need us for an emergency problem we’re still there, but we’re reconfiguring that level of care delivery and health wellness and maintenance to that community.”
This change in approach can be at least partially attributed to some nearby competition, as Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park has designs for constructing a new facility as well in the next couple of years. Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center is on track to open in summer 2019.
“The elephant in the room is Washington Adventist is building a brand new hospital, over 200-bed hospital less than seven miles away from us,” Hall said. “Part of that is really looking at the changing landscape of the care that’s being provided…The reality is looking at how we can continue to provide a certain level of care.”
The approval granted by the Maryland Health Care Commission marks the final step in a planning and development process that began over two years ago in July 2016. Local leaders and hospital representatives created a Strategic Planning Work Group to approach the topic of healthcare in Laurel, chaired by Laurel Mayor Craig Moe and University of Maryland Medical System Chief Medical Officer Stephen Bartlett.
The group included an executive committee featuring county and city council members along with state health officials, plus separate committees chaired by government leaders and UMD medical department heads.
The collection of stakeholders came together to submit a report to the University of Maryland Board of Directors, which then put the chain of events in motion. Moe credited the residents for their participation in the approval stage as far as making sure the plan had local support.
“It was a long process, but as I tell everybody, the community in particular really came (out),” Moe said. “The Greater Laurel Beltsville area really came out in force and sent a signal to the university.”
Laurel Regional Hospital officials then submitted a Request for Certificate of Need Exemption in April to illustrate the plans to update the hospital, which included offering services such as 24/7 emergency care, short-stay overnight care and outpatient surgery, according to the press release. Some of these approved services will be available at the current facility until the new center is ready for operation.
The design for the facility will make better use of the more than 40-acre property, utilizing the space to offer care to residents that have not been available before.
“Most important what’s gonna happen there is it’s gonna be a medical campus,” Moe said. “The rest of that area…people will be able to see other services that will be provided there.”