Hospitals' services grow

Health: Anne Arundel Medical Center may expand again, while North Arundel Hospital is rounding out its offerings.

May 16, 2004|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

The demand for medical care in Anne Arundel County is growing so quickly that Anne Arundel Medical Center is looking to expand again, only two years after moving from its longtime home in downtown Annapolis to a new, 103-acre campus in Parole.

Hospital officials announced in February that they were beginning a nine-month planning process for possible expansion. The same rise in demand that prompted the move to Parole is causing hospital leaders to look for new ways to grow, said Martin L. Doordan, president of the Anne Arundel Health System.

The system, a nonprofit serving Anne Arundel and neighboring counties, has hired medical development specialists to work on the planned expansion. Doordan said it is too early to discuss possible growth, but said he expects the medical center to do more research and add specialty centers.

"We're calling this Vision 2010, but really I'm looking at the next 20 to 25 years to build this into a Mecca for health care," Doordan said at the time of the announcement.

The Anne Arundel Health System, which runs the medical center, is the fourth-largest private employer in Anne Arundel County, with a work force of more than 2,000 and a 600-person medical staff.

Hospital officials have begun laying the groundwork for expansion, securing control of a 120,000-square-foot building across Jennifer Road that the health system originally developed with Constellation Energy Group. With that property, the center has room to expand without buying more land.

Last year, the medical center treated 8 percent more inpatients -- 21,618 -- than it did in 2001, the year it moved. Also last year, the center recorded the second-highest number of births of any Maryland hospital, 4,676.

Patients are demanding and receiving a wider range of services, hospital officials say. The medical center staff performed last year hundreds of emergency angioplasty procedures, which it could not have handled a few years ago.

Medical center officials said the expansion of Donner Pavilion, which houses its Geaton and JoAnn DeCesaris Cancer Institute, will be completed in June.

The medical center also is expanding its community outreach efforts, with plans to open the county's first free dental clinic for adults this year at the downtown Annapolis site, where the center runs a medical clinic.

Hospital officials said they recognized that many low-income patients going to the clinic for other problems appeared to have poor dental hygiene. National studies also have shown many lower-income families neglect dental care.

The center has collected more than the clinic's estimated $50,000 operating costs in grants and donations to cover equipment expenses and has three dentists lined up to volunteer their services, said Bill West, director of community health and awareness. West said the clinic could open in the fall.

The clinic is projected to treat about 4,500 patients this year at its offices on West Washington Street. West said it was too early to predict how many patients might use the three-chair dental clinic, but the facility probably would offer four-hour sessions four times a month to start.

Patients likely would start with an educational and screening session and be treated at a follow-up session.

North Arundel Hospital in Glen Burnie is the county's other major medical center and also is working to round out its services.

North Arundel is a 253-bed community hospital and a part of the University of Maryland Medical System. The hospital sees about 17,000 inpatients and the emergency department sees about 77,000 patients a year. It has more than 2,400 employees.

In November, the hospital opened the Maryland Vascular Center, which offers evaluations, diagnostic testing, and consultations with physicians such as vascular surgeons, interventional radiologists and interventional cardiologists.

In April, the hospital opened the Spine and Pain Center to treat patients with neck or back problems. The center is a partnership with the Center for Pain Management, a Rockville-based facility that specializes in the treatment of "musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain."

North Arundel also continued to expand the staff and programs at its Tate Cancer Center, a $17 million facility that opened in February 2003. The 60,000-square-foot center offers services including surgery, a new "healing garden" and a wig shop.

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