Anne Arundel hospital observes 100 years serving the community

Population growth led to move, expansion

July 18, 2002|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

When the new Annapolis Emergency Hospital opened July 18, 1902, the first patient was J.M. Bowers, the foreman of a crew of stonemasons working on construction of the Court of Appeals building. Injured on the job, Bowers was treated at the two-story, white frame converted residence with 11 beds and a commanding view of Spa Creek.

A century later, the hospital that is now Anne Arundel Medical Center has lost its enviable view. But it has also shed its longtime reputation as a small-town, community hospital and grown into a regional medical center on a sprawling 104-acre site.

Today, the hospital celebrates its first 100 years by selling cafeteria fare at 1902 prices- $1 per meal - serving cake and fresh flowers with patient meals, and providing all-day musical entertainment led by a staff doctor and his Dixieland band.

Between the food and festivities, many hospital employees are taking time to reflect on its evolution. During the past decade, the hospital has reinvented itself with a gradual move from its longtime home at Franklin and Cathedral streets in downtown Annapolis to a new campus at Medical Park a few miles away.

The park includes a women's and children's center, a breast cancer center, a joint replacement center and a 244-bed acute care inpatient facility.

"We've really gone from that little country hospital to a bona fide medical center that I think serves people beyond just our local community," said Dr. Joe Moser, the hospital's vice president for medical affairs. "We have services now that people come to from a wider region as well."

When Moser joined the hospital in 1975 as an obstetrician/gynecologist, the medical staff numbered 135. Now it stands at nearly 700. He remembers running the obstetrics department from a small unit in the basement of the hospital's former facility.

"We did 1,300 deliveries that year and didn't have a C-section room available," he said. "We used the operating rooms upstairs."

For the past couple years, the hospital has ranked fourth statewide in the number of annual births, and it ended its fiscal year June 30 with more than 4,500 deliveries.

The hospital's joint replacement center has developed a national reputation, and attracts orthopedic surgeons from across the country twice a month to observe procedures.

"Even some of the big hospitals in Baltimore have sent doctors down," said Marshall K. Steele, an orthopedic surgeon at the hospital for 25 years.

Much of the hospital's expansion has been fueled by the growth of Anne Arundel County - which, according to the 2000 Census, has a population of nearly 500,000 - and areas to the south, including portions of Calvert and Prince George's counties and the Eastern Shore.

"We are a far cry from the small, sweet community hospital based in town," said Mitchell B. Schwartz, a cardiologist at the hospital for 10 years.

According to the Maryland Health Care Commission, the hospital experienced a 21 percent increase in patient admissions from 1990 to 2000- the most current data available-compared with 2.4 percent in hospitals statewide.

"Their utilization has been strong, compared to the growth in admissions for other hospitals," said Pamela Barclay, deputy director for health resources with the commission.

Now, as hospital admission rates across Maryland rebound after declining or stagnant numbers during in the past 10 years, the Anne Arundel Medical Center remains ahead of the average rate of growth. Last year, admissions to hospitals statewide grew by 4.5 percent, while Anne Arundel Medical Center saw a 5.5 percent increase, according to the Maryland Hospital Association.

Since moving to the Medical Park campus off U.S. 50 last December, the hospital has received state approval for an additional 16 beds, giving it 262.

Anne Arundel Medical Center remains an independent facility - as do approximately half the hospitals in Maryland. However, it had discussions about merging in 1996 with competitor North Arundel Hospital in Glen Burnie.

"We continually talk and discuss potential relationships with other hospitals and health systems," said Martin L. "Chip" Doordan, the hospital's president and chief executive for 30 years. "But at this point we're not looking to join another organization in any kind of formal way."

Along with the growth, Anne Arundel Medical Center officials say that the hospital has maintained its ties to the community through an array of educational programs and the Annapolis Outreach Center at the Stanton Community Center, which provides free medical care to low-income and uninsured patients.

"The physicians are community-based and do not have multiple hospital credentials; they're basically dedicated to this hospital," said Ken S. Gummerson, chief of emergency medicine.

"Right now, I'm looking at Mary Churchill on the nursing staff - her father was on the board - and Donna Gilbert, the charge nurse, has been here as long as I can remember. You can't turn around without bumping into somebody you know a lot about," he said.

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