ANNAPOLIS — A Carroll delegate and a Carroll County General Hospital executive urged a House committee yesterday to approve a $500,000 grant for the expansion of CCGH's overburdened emergency room.
"We're dangerously taxing a facility that's already operating beyond capacity," Charles R. Graf, president of the Carroll County Health Services Corp., told the Appropriations Committee. The corporation is CCGH's private, non-profit parent company.
Del. Richard N. Dixon, a Democrat, is sponsoring the bill, which would target the money to the hospital's improvement fund. An Appropriations Committee member, Dixon emphasized that this is the first time the 30-year-old hospital has requested state money. He added that the county is not asking for money for any other projects in this tight budget year.
Sen. Larry E. Haines, a Republican, is sponsoring the same request in the Senate.
The estimated cost of the project, which would more than double the size of the current 4,000-square-foot emergency room, is $1.4 million, said Graf. About $900,000 collected through CCGH's fund-raising campaign has been earmarked for the project, he said.
Graf told the committee that CCGH treated 1,708 emergency room patients in 1962, its first full year; it treated 7,028 in 1970 and 23,005 last year. The hospital anticipates treating 28,000patients in the emergency room in 1995 and 34,000 in the year 2000.
The emergency room has occupied the same space since 1980. Some internal improvements have been made to increase efficiency and services, Graf said.
"Frankly, it's dangerous," Graf said. "At times, we are stacked up in there. It's dangerous to the patients and frustrating to the doctors and nurses. I hope (the grant) comes through."
If the grant is not approved, CCGH may scale back its plans for the emergency room expansion, postpone other improvement projects or searchfor other ways to finance the project, said Graf.
"But we'll haveto do something with the emergency room," he added.
CCGH also plans to expand its operating room, a change that will be necessary as more patients with critical conditions are treated in the emergency room, said Graf.
The goal is to transport as few patients as possible to other hospitals outside the county, said Graf. To achieve that goal, the hospital needs more staff and equipment for the emergency room, he said.
Dixon stressed to the committee that CCGH is about 25miles from the closest hospital.
The hospital is gradually implementing a long-range upgrading and expansion plan estimated at about $25 million for construction projects, equipment purchases and additional services. Last year, the General Assembly approved a bill authorizing the county commissioners to contribute $1 million over five years to CCGH.