ONE DOESN'T have to be a clairvoyant to predict what the future holds for the downtown complex of the Anne Arundel Medical Center. Located in the heart of Annapolis, the hospital has nowhere to expand. As a result, more of its services -- inpatient as well as outpatient -- will move to its new Jennifer Road medical park in Parole, just beyond the city limits.
It's no surprise, therefore, that hospital officials are again exploring the consolidation of all inpatient services at their suburban campus near the Annapolis Mall. Confronted with competition from other hospitals and squeezed by managed health plans that limit hospital stays, AAMC has to be extremely attractive to patients and physicians and, at the same time, very efficient in its delivery of services. It will be difficult to achieve both those ends while operating two inpatient facilities a few miles apart, one in an aging building.
The benefits of transferring certain services to the medical park are clear. By moving its obstetric service into a new building last year and employing state-of-the-art technological services in a hotel-like setting, AAMC has seen its maternity business boom. The floor currently devoted to delivery is operating at capacity; the hospital has decided to open another floor far ahead of schedule to handle the flood of new business. Hospital officials are convinced that had maternity care remained downtown, AAMC would not have experienced such a dramatic increase in demand for obstetric and women's services.
The question is not what will be moved to the medical park, but what will remain downtown. Clearly, AAMC would like to continue to have a presence in the heart of the state capital, as it has for 94 years. Politically, it would be a blunder to abandon the city. Some existing services, such as emergency medicine, may stay put.
Yet just as the institution has evolved from a 10-bed cottage that tended to injured farmers, workmen and watermen back in 1902 to a sophisticated 291-bed hospital with numerous specialties, it would be unreasonable to expect AAMC to remain frozen in time.
All the same, the hospital board has an obligation to retain some presence in Annapolis, which has faithfully supported AAMC throughout this century.
Pub Date: 9/03/96