North Arundel Hospital changes name, seeks to expand

State permission sought to add obstetrics care

July 06, 2005|By M. William Salganik | M. William Salganik,SUN STAFF

You've soared from the Baltimore-Washington International Airport. You've been stuck in traffic jams on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. You've talked about the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

Now, meet Baltimore Washington, the hospital.

The Glen Burnie institution known as North Arundel Hospital changed its name yesterday to Baltimore Washington Medical Center. To go along with the broader reach indicated by the name, the hospital also unveiled plans for a $112 million expansion and said that it was seeking state permission to offer obstetrics for the first time.

"We're making a statement as to what the hospital is today, and where it's going in the future," said James Walker, president and chief executive officer.

Already, hospital officials said, the hospital is drawing patients from beyond its historical base in Glen Burnie and Pasadena, particularly for specialized services such as its cancer center, orthopedics and newly opened breast surgery center.

But also, Walker said, the hospital is looking to reach to the area around Fort Meade, eight miles away and projecting thousands of added jobs with military base realignment, and the Arundel Mills mall, about four miles away, where 2,000 housing units are planned nearby.

A new eight-story patient tower would replace some current rooms and add 55 medical-surgical beds to the hospital's current 278, as well as 18 obstetric beds, according to Pamela Barclay, deputy director for health resources at the Maryland Health Care Commission. The commission is reviewing the hospital's plans and expects to make a decision this fall on whether to approve the new tower and the addition of obstetrics.

Harbor Hospital, in South Baltimore, opposes the new obstetrics program. Noting that the commission projects a decline in births in Anne Arundel County over the next 25 years, Christopher A. Chekouras, vice president of planning and strategic development at Harbor, said yesterday that the need could be met by existing providers.

"The community will see increased competition for already scarce nursing resources as well as increased cost of providing care" if the added beds are approved, he said.

Walker said the hospital didn't offer obstetrics when it opened 40 years ago because it "had a difficult time raising money" and "decided to focus on medical-surgical services." Now, he said, it is "totally irrational" to block a program there.

Of nearly 50 general hospitals in the state, 14 don't provide obstetrics services, according to Barclay.

Also seeking state approval is Anne Arundel Medical Center, for a $210 million expansion that would add 69 beds.

Walker said the two hospitals in the county are supporting each other's efforts, and that both needed to grow because of demand. He said his hospital sometimes has to turn patients away because it is full.

North Arundel opened with just 107 beds on July 4, 1965. It joined the University of Maryland Medical System five years ago and has since added specialty programs.

Yesterday's announcement ceremony was attended by the first patient from 40 years ago - Charles Weishaar, of Glen Burnie, who visited the emergency room on opening day with a minor hand injury.

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