The process of getting a new hospital in Prince George’s County moves forward as Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker testified in Annapolis last week about the need for a new facility.

Baker and several other key officials testified in front of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. Their message was that this hospital needs to get done to improve the economic health for one of the most politically important jurisdictions in the state.

“From an economic development perspective, a new RMC would have both a direct and indirect impact on economic activity in the county and it would bolster our efforts to create jobs and expand our commercial tax base,” Baker said.

On July 21, the county, Gov. Martin O’Malley, University System of Maryland, University of Maryland Medical System and Dimensions Healthcare System signed a memorandum of understanding to begin the process of replacing Prince George’s Hospital, which has been hemorrhaging money.

Baker spoke to the money Dimensions is losing in his testimony about how important it was for county residents to receive healthcare in Prince George’s County.

“This impact can best be illustrated by the fact that over 60 percent of Prince George’s County residents currently leave the County to receive healthcare,” Baker said. “In our surrounding jurisdictions, this figure is less than 25 percent.

“Over 20,000 hospital admissions are going to DC hospitals annually,” he continued. “Retaining less than a third of these hospital admissions would completely eliminate the operating losses at Dimensions. “

The MOU process is three-pronged. The first stage will be used to develop a strategy and determine the scale of the facility and how to create a primary care network in the county. The next step will be to determine the cost of the facility and to negotiate how those costs will be shared by all stakeholders. The last step will be the execution of the plan to be used for site selection, design of the facility and submission of the Certificate of Need to build a new hospital.

Right now, step one of that process is already underway. The University Of Maryland College Park School Of Public Health is mapping primary care facilities and specialty care physicians in the county. Baker said there is also a plan to survey 1,000 county residents to get their attitudes and opinions towards healthcare delivery and what would get residents to get healthcare in Prince George’s.

As far as the funding is concerned, Baker took used his time in front of the committee to let it be known that Prince George’s County would be able to hold up its end of the bargain.

“Prior to signing this MOU, the state, county and UMMS all committed to allocating the necessary resources to complete the project. At that time, there was no discussion about the need to use revenues from gaming to fund any portion of this project,” he said. “The County remains confident that it has the necessary resources to fund its share of the cost.”

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO