Medical center well on its way to new campus

Development: The $65 million complex will help the hospital focus on technology, convenience and service, officials say.

October 21, 2001|By KAREN NITKIN | KAREN NITKIN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

After nearly 100 years of providing health care in downtown Annapolis, Anne Arundel Medical Center is making a new home for itself.

The new location, about three miles away off U.S. 50, reflects the institution's gradual evolution from city hospital to regional medical center. In leaving its older - and smaller - hospital for the larger, more efficient complex, AAMC becomes part of a modern medical park emphasizing convenience, service and technology.

"I like to think of it as a mecca of health care," said Martin L. "Chip" Doordan president of Anne Arundel Health Systems.

The old hospital, which has been on Franklin Street in one form or another since 1902, had no more room for expansion. "The bottom line was, we got landlocked downtown," Doordan said.

The new hospital, known as the Acute Care Pavilion, is expected to open at the end of this month. The site has room for more facilities. It isn't known what the medical park will look like down the road, but an expansion of the hospital seems likely, Doordan said.

Unlike the downtown hospital, the one in the medical park features plenty of parking and easy highway access. It will have private rooms, each with a shower, a built-in safe and room for a visitor to spend the night. Even the new conference room is several times the size of the old one.

The hospital also has more room for such space-consuming technologies as magnetic resonance imaging devices.

The facility includes an emergency room four times the size of the one at the downtown Annapolis landmark, with bays for eight ambulances instead of two.

The emergency room in the old hospital, designed for 20,000 visitors a year, typically accommodated more than 50,000, said Lisa Hillman, vice president for development and community affairs. A busy emergency room doesn't necessarily mean longer waits, but it does mean a lack of privacy for patients, who are sometimes treated in hallways, Hillman said.

No such hardships are expected at the new hospital, which will be part of a complex that includes, among other things, an outpatient surgery center, a cancer treatment center and a maternity center.

This is going to be an enormous change for everyone," said Mary Lou Baker, a hospital spokeswoman.

Hillard Donner, a hospital board member, couldn't be happier. The Annapolis owner of Mills Wine and Spirits Mart donated $1 million toward construction of the new medical park.

"I just got so excited about it. I thought it was just the most wonderful thing that we were going to do," he said.

The seeds of the move were planted in 1983, when the hospital bought about 100 acres off U.S. 50. The goal was to place many hospital services at the new site, though not necessarily move the entire hospital, Hillman said.

First to open, in 1989, was the Rose and Joseph Donner Pavilion (named for Hillard Donner's parents), a cancer treatment center. Community classes are also held there.

The Richard I. Edwards Outpatient Surgical Pavilion, where more than 600 surgeries are performed each month, opened next.

In 1995, the Rebecca M. Clatanoff maternity center opened, and soon 4,000 babies a year were being delivered there.

The maternity center, with its private hotel-like moms, has catapulted to fourth in the state in the number of births, up from 14th when it opened, Donner said. "We're getting people coming from Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore to have their babies there because it's all private and the father, the mother and child are all in one room," Dormer said.

"It really started to blossom at that point," Doordan sald.

This spring, the Lesly and Pat Sajak Pavilion opened, comprising a breast center and a diagnostics laboratory.

Expanded services at the center will include a neurological institute, a vascular institute, a diabetes center and a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation center.

The decision to move the hospital to the site wasn't made until 1996. Officials were planning a $2 million renovation and realized that moving to a new facility would make more sense. That October, the hospital's board of trustees approved a plan to consolidate the old hospital and the new medical center.

After decades of renovating and enhancing structures, officials had the opportunity to build a hospital from scratch. They solicited ideas from the staff, secretaries to surgeons, and studied other hospitals around the nation.

The result is a hospital with many amenities. For example, the traditional nurse's station has been abolished, replaced by computers shared by every two rooms.

The public also offered ideas and opinions. A poll found that the community's top priority was convenient parking. officials responded by creating a 700-space garage.

The move has received wide-spread community support, but some have expressed concerns about a lack of service for downtown residents. In response, the Anne Arundel Medical Center Outreach Center opened in 1998 at Clay and West Washington streets.

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