Hospital consolidation clarified

March 19, 1995|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Sun Staff Writer

State health-care regulators have clarified the manner in which Upper Chesapeake Health System can proceed with its plans to build a new hospital near Bel Air and consolidate existing services in Harford County.

The decision Tuesday by the Maryland Health Resources Planning Commission was in response to a request in January by Upper Chesapeake, a medical-management group that operates Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace and Fallston General Hospital.

Upper Chesapeake wants to close Fallston, scale back Harford Memorial operations and build a $44.8 million hospital on the Route 24 corridor between Abingdon and Bel Air. It also wants to transfer the pediatrics and obstetrics departments from Harford Memorial to the new facility, a proposal opposed by some residents.

In its original proposal for the consolidation project last July, Upper Chesapeake requested an exemption from the state's requirement for a certificate of need. A certificate of need allows plans for hospital construction to proceed.

An exemption would have freed Upper Chesapeake from an evidentiary hearing at which it would have to justify the reorganization and document the needs of the current and projected population. The hear hearing also would allow 'interested parties' to challenge the need.

The request for exemption was denied in November.

In January, Upper Chesapeake asked if the state would review its plan as two separate proposals -- one for construction of a new hospital and a second for the reduction of hospital beds and the transfer of pediatric and obstetric services from Harford Memorial to the new facility.

Tuesday, the commission said no.

It ruled that plans for pediatrics and obstetrics must be included in the application for the new hospital.

Furthermore, the commission ruled that it would not consider applications from competing organizations at the same time as that of Upper Chesapeake.

Allan H. Acton, Upper Chesapeake vice president, would not disclose whether Upper Chesapeake will go ahead with an application for a certificate of need for a hospital.

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