N

A rendering of the forthcoming Prince George’s Medical Center in Largo. (Photo/princegeorgescountymd.gov)

Caroline Adderly of Landover walks with a cane and has a chronic health issue that has yet to be cured. “I’ve been suffering with a long time ailment. I’ve been from D.C. to Virginia to Maryland. I’m going from specialist to specialist, but no one can figure out the problem,” she said.

Adderly was one of 200 people at Prince George’s Community College March 7 for a county-wide meeting on a healthcare strategic plan and forthcoming medical center in Largo. The primary strategic healthcare plan is a partnership between the Prince George’s County Executive’s office, the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission Planning Department, the Prince George’s Board of Health and the Prince George’s Health Department.

The county wide-meeting provided residents with a first look at the healthcare strategic plan and architectural renderings for a regional medical center in Largo. “The overall goal is to improve health outcomes within Prince George’s County,” Betty Hager Francis, deputy chief administrative officer of Health, Human Services and Education for Prince George’s County, said.  “There are a number of steps to get there and one of them is to ensure we have integrated health practices.”

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III spoke about integration.“We’re expanding our relationships with clinics throughout the county and looking to bring more clinics here,” Baker said.   “We’re putting social workers and health officers in the schools, especially around our TNI (Transforming Neighborhood Initiatives) areas. And we’re working with the existing hospitals to connect everybody.”

Prior meetings on healthcare needs found residents primarily desire more access to quality care and Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene Grant agreed. “From our citizens’ perspective, those who are uninsured and insured, those who are Medicare, Medicaid or privately insured; all of them are saying we don’t have access to quality healthcare,” said Grant. “Some of my seniors go all the way to Howard University.”

Although Prince George’s has several medical centers and primary care providers, residents continue to seek care in nearby counties and Washington, D.C. One in two county residents visits surrounding districts for medical care, according to a study by John Snow Inc., the public health consulting firm that drafted the strategic plan. “Is it disheartening to think that one out of every two people leaves Prince George’s County to get healthcare,” asked Council Member Derrick Leon Davis (D-District 9). “Can you imagine you can’t get healthcare where you live?”

The same study found that out of Maryland’s 24 counties, Prince George’s ranked 17, 18 and 14 in health outcomes, length of life and quality of life, respectively.

Many in attendance were interested in an anticipated open date for the Largo medical center which, according to Baker, is slated to open in late 2016 or early 2017. “What will be offered here, when is it coming and how long is it going to take,” Adderly asked.