Hospital firms plans to leave city Health services to be consolidated at Medical Park

Move awaits new facility

Downtown building could be converted for other uses

November 06, 1996|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF Sun researcher Bobby Schrott contributed to this report.

By the turn of the century, Annapolis may become one of two state capitals without a full-service hospital.

Anne Arundel Medical Center officials have endorsed plans to consolidate the 291-bed downtown hospital with its smaller, specialty operation almost three miles away at the Medical Park campus on Jennifer Road.

The move, which has been considered by the medical center's board of trustees for more than 10 years, would happen once a new 300-bed hospital is built on the 104-acre Medical Park site. FTC That plan has yet to advance beyond the design stage and is expected to take three to five years to complete.

The motive behind the consolidation is simple: To save money by concentrating staff, services and equipment in one state-of-the-art medical complex near Annapolis Mall. Development agreements with Annapolis prevented the hospital from expanding on its downtown lot, bounded by Franklin and Cathedral streets, where it has been located since 1902.

But the impending move, announced last week, is something city officials have long feared: An exodus of 1,800 high-paying jobs from the city center to the county. That could mean a loss of customers for downtown restaurants and shops.

"We certainly have known this was coming since they acquired the land" in 1983, said Susan K. Zellers, the city's director of economic development. "Medical centers change over the years. They require more space, and the one downtown has been unable to grow because of its location."

Annapolis will join Montpelier, Vt., population 8,300, as a state capital without a hospital inside city limits.

In approving the consolidation plan, the nonprofit medical center's board of trustees endorsed a three-step strategy to help ease the hospital out of prime downtown real estate without affecting medical services or causing too much financial hardship.

The steps include: coordinating design of the hospital with regulatory agencies; listening to community groups affected by the decision; and working with officials, businesses and residents to address concerns arising from the move.

Topping the city's list of concerns is the future of the hospital building, located a stone's throw from a thriving historic district.

In the past, hospital officials have discussed maintaining at least an emergency treatment center in part of the downtown building. Another possibility reportedly being considered would be to turn the building into a residential care center for seniors.

"We're planning on working with the hospital," Zellers said. "What they put in that building could minimize the [economic] impact. The key is that it's three to five years before this is going to happen. We have a lot of time to plan the reuse of that facility."

With the move, the hospital will join the Rebecca M. Clatanoff Women's Pavilion at Medical Park. The 38-bed center is expected to nearly double in size next year to accommodate maternity, obstetric and gynecological surgical patients.

Medical Park also houses AAMC outpatient surgery, oncology, radiology and health education facilities, and a professional building.

Pub Date: 11/06/96

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