Maryland health regulators have begun their review of a plan to create a new acute care hospital in Prince George’s County, the latest development in the county’s long-running attempt to replace the beleaguered Prince George’s Health Center.
On Oct. 4, Dimensions Healthcare System, which runs PGHC, along with the University of Maryland Medical System filed an application for a Certificate of Need (CON) with the Maryland Health Care Commission.
Paul E. Parker, director of the Commission’s Center for Health Care Facilities Planning & Development, verified receiving the application and said the review process has begun.
“We have requested additional information from this applicant to complete the application. Some of the information has been provided and we are awaiting additional information,” he told the AFRO via e-mail.
When the Commission has received all the requested information, the application will be docketed and a 90-day review process would begin. The process would take 150 days if the proposal is opposed by one or more qualified interested parties, Parker said.
“The review will focus on the need for the project, the availability of more cost-effective alternatives to the project, the project's viability, its impact and the track record of the applicant in meeting terms and conditions of previously awarded CONs,” he said. “Finally, the application will be reviewed for consistency with the State Health Plan, regulations adopted to guide the review of CON applications.”
The review process could take an estimated nine months and, if the plan is approved, groundbreaking on the Largo-based facility would take place in 2015.
Dimensions officials say they have received an outpouring of support for their plan and they feel confident that the application will be approved.
“The letters of support that we have received are extremely validating and push us to work even harder for our community,” said Neil J. Moore, president and CEO of Dimensions Healthcare System, in a statement on Oct. 4. “We’ve enhanced our partnerships, finances and operational efficiencies, which further strengthens our Certificate of Need application and we are confident that the Maryland Health Care Commission will agree that a new regional medical center meets the community’s needs.”
The current proposal to relocate and replace PGHC, a 311-bed facility based in Cheverly, has been in development since 2011. It is the latest of many attempts to sell, restructure, recapitalize or otherwise make the hospital financially viable.
Launched in 1944, PGHC began experiencing financial difficulties in the mid-1970s as it became the hospital of choice for low-income residents and the estimated 80,000-150,000 uninsured local residents who use expensive emergency care services instead of primary care physicians for their medical needs. The challenges led many insured residents to seek health services outside the county, but officials said they believe the new state-of-the-art facility will draw them back.
The proposed new regional medical center will be built on 26 acres at the Boulevard at the Capital Centre, which is easily accessible from the Capital Beltway and Metro. It is expected to include 231 acute care beds; 68 “observation” beds, where patients’ needs are assessed; and 64 emergency treatment bays.
The projected cost of the project is $630 million—down from $645 million, the CON application shows. The state and county governments will jointly provide $416 million in public funds for the project; the rest will come from bonds, loans and other forms of credit.
"The new regional medical center in Prince George’s County addresses the need for improved facilities and will become the southern hub for high quality, comprehensive health care serving the entire county and Southern Maryland," said C. Philip Nichols, Jr., chairman of the Dimensions Healthcare System Board of Directors, in a recent statement.
The new facility, which will be incorporated into the University of Maryland Medical System, is projected to open in January 2018.