AAMC's moving experience

Relocation: On Sunday, the hospital will leave downtown after 99 years on the same site for a new $65 million facility.

November 30, 2001|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

When the Annapolis Emergency Hospital opened its doors in July 1902, it served the surrounding town with 11 beds in a converted farmhouse overlooking Spa Creek.

During the past 99 years, the hospital has evolved in the same location and grown into Anne Arundel Medical Center, a six-story facility on 4.5 acres in the heart of the historic downtown that admitted nearly 20,000 patients during the last fiscal year.

On Sunday, the medical center will leave that original footprint behind and close the doors of its downtown facility for good - moving its patients and emergency room a few miles to a new $65 million, 277,000-square-foot acute care hospital outside of town. That move will complete the relocation of the hospital's medical services to the 60-acre medical complex off Jennifer Road that opened in 1989.

"There was a lot of heart-wrenching feelings about leaving the downtown building, which holds so many memories - in that building, children were born and people have died," said Lisa Hillman, vice president for development and community affairs. "But after you have been in this new building and you see how beautiful it is, calming and reassuring, you can't wait to get out here."

Officials say they built the facility with patients, families and hospital employees in mind.

Many suggestions incorporated into the new hospital were made by staff members who were included in the five-year planning process. At one point, about 300 physicians, nurses and other employees met to brainstorm ideas.

"We had a chance to experience the frustration of the way things were and a chance to envision what they could be ideally," said Dr. Joe Moser, vice president for medical affairs, who noted that the medical staff has grown from 130 when he started in 1975 to 600 last year. "This was an opportunity to start with a blank sheet and say, `OK, how would you like to see things laid out?'"

Decorated in earth tones with nature-themed artwork, the facility features meditation gardens, outdoor dining off the food court-style cafeteria and comfortable waiting areas. The emergency room is four times larger than the old one, with children's evaluation rooms and waiting area with toys. Outside, eight bays will receive ambulances, up from two at the old hospital.

Each of the 182 private-patient rooms has a toilet, shower and personal safe and a sofa-bed for family members to spend the night.

Visitors will be given pagers so they can be reached easily if they leave a patient's bedside. Nurses, who will be equipped with wireless telephones, can be contacted by the push of a button.

Each floor has a pantry and hostess who can prepare food for patients who might not like the selection or time of a regular meal.

Moser said one problem at the downtown hospital was busy operating rooms that sometimes were booked well after midnight.

The new hospital initially will have 10 operating rooms compared with the downtown's nine, and will offer 12 in a few months. Additional procedural rooms and expanded preoperative and postoperative facilities also will take demand off that space, and new equipment will help the surgical unit run more efficiently, he said.

Patient floors are equipped with pneumatic tube systems that will allow caregivers to send samples to the laboratory or get medicine from the pharmacy without leaving their floors. Supply cabinets with scanners for automatic inventory allow quick restocking.

The floors are divided into 12-room "pods" with nursing substations for every two rooms.

Five elevators are designated for staff, patient and visitor use, with one reserved as a trauma elevator, making trips only between the emergency room and operating rooms.

The radiology department is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including a new system (called PACS - picture archiving and communication system). PACS allows doctors - on campus and off - to view filmless X-rays online and keep patient records computerized in one place.

With these amenities, Martin L. "Chip" Doordan, the hospital's president and chief executive, said he hopes opening the new facility will make Anne Arundel Medical Center "much more of a regional Mecca of health care." It is the second hospital built in Maryland during the past 25 years, after Upper Chesapeake Medical Center opened in Bel Air in October of last year.

"We will always be here for the folks that live here and hopefully have a personal touch," Doordan said. "But we also have a level of sophistication that will help us to expand."

Using about 20 ambulances from across the state, the hospital will move 80 to 100 patients from the old hospital to the new beginning at 6 a.m. Sunday. That's also when the new emergency room opens and the old one stops accepting patients. Any patient too ill to be transported will be kept at the old hospital with sufficient staff until he or she is stabilized.

The new hospital completes the scheduled construction at the Carl A. Brunetto Medical Park. It opened in 1989 with the Edwards Outpatient Surgery Pavilion and the Donner Pavilion, which houses the Radiation Oncology Center.

In 1995, Clatanoff Pavilion, a 62-bed women's and children's center and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and Wayson Pavilion, an office building, opened on the campus. The Sajak Pavilion, which includes the Breast Center, Diabetes Center and Cardiopulmonary Center, opened in the spring.

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