Francis P. Chiaramonte dies at 84; founder of Southern Maryland Hospital Center

Francis P. Chiaramonte, a urological surgeon who founded Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton, a medical facility now owned by the MedStar health-care system, died May 19 at his home in Camp Springs. He was 84.

He had congestive heart failure, said his son Michael J. Chiaramonte, the hospital’s president and a MedStar senior vice president.

(Linda Wheeler) - Francis P. Chiaramonte Jr., poses for a portrait in Washington, D.C. in 1978. Chiaramonte, the urologist and hospital developer who founded Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton, died May 19. He was 84.

Gallery

Dr. Chiaramonte was a prominent urologist in the Washington area before embarking on his development project in the early 1970s. Southern Maryland Hospital Center opened in 1977, with Dr. Chiaramonte as owner and chairman of the board, and became one of the region’s largest private medical facilities of its kind.

The development proposal faced political controversy and competitive challenges, according to news accounts from the time. Notably, two officials at the rival Clinton Community Hospital and their attorney were indicted in connection with an alleged conspiracy to break into Dr. Chiaramonte’s office. The charges against the hospital officials were dismissed, and the lawyer was acquitted in 1976.

In the years after it opened, Southern Maryland Hospital Center was subject to scrutiny involving its expansion, staffing and quality of care. Prince George’s County had been severely underserved in hospital space, however, and in later years Dr. Chiaramonte noted that the closure of and upheaval at other area medical facilities had increased the patient load at Southern Maryland.

Dr. Chiaramonte continued operating his urological surgery practice through the early 1990s. In 2007, he was succeeded as hospital president by his son. Dr. Chiaramonte remained chairman of the board until 2012, when Southern Maryland was purchased by MedStar.

Francis Paul Chiaramonte was born Nov. 30, 1928, in Shelter Island, N.Y. His father, a Sicilian immigrant who came to the United States through Ellis Island, was a laborer; his mother was a homemaker.

He received a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., in 1950. After Air Force service, he received a master of public health degree from Columbia University in 1954 and a medical degree from Georgetown University in 1958.

Early in his career, he was chief of urological surgery and chief of the medical staff at the District’s Cafritz Memorial Hospital, which became Greater Southeast Community Hospital and later United Medical Center.

His philanthropic work included a $1 million gift to the College of Southern Maryland Foundation in 2008 as well as extensive gifts to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other environmental organizations, his son said.

Dr. Chiaramonte was separated from his wife of 56 years, Dorothy Scuderi Chiaramonte of Alexandria. Their daughter Diane Chiaramonte died in 1981.

Survivors include five children, Francis P. Chiaramonte III of Potomac, Claire Chiaramonte Wagner of Bethesda, Cathe Chiaramonte of Marblehead, Mass., Michael J. Chiaramonte of Alexandria and Mark Chiaramonte of San Clemente, Calif.; a brother; a sister; and 14 grandchildren.