Maryland hospital hits snag in plan to relocate


Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park has plans to move to the White Oak section of Silver Spring. (Michael S. Williamson/WASHINGTON POST)
September 4, 2012

A Maryland hospital regulator recommended Tuesday that the state deny permission for Washington Adventist Hospital to move from its longtime home in Takoma Park. The hospital wants to move to a site in Silver Spring.

Barbara McLean, a member of the Maryland Health Care Commission who was in charge of the initial review, said she was rejecting the request because the hospital “failed to demonstrate that the proposed project is financially feasible and viable.”

Adventist wants to move the 281-bed hospital in Takoma Park to a 48-acre site in the White Oak area of Silver Spring, about six miles away, where it hopes to build a state-of-the-art, $389 million hospital. The full commission is scheduled to consider McLean’s recommendation at an Oct. 18 meeting, when oral arguments will be presented. A final decision is expected after the meeting.

In her 180-page decision, McLean appeared to leave open the possibility that she might sign off on a differently configured proposal.

Other health-care providers have said the planned relocation by Washington Adventist would force nearby hospitals to care for more of the region’s poor and uninsured while siphoning off more of their paying patients.

Dimensions Healthcare System, for example, has protested the move. It operates five facilities in Prince George’s, including Laurel Regional Hospital and the flagship Prince George’s County Hospital Center. Some of Dimensions’ facilities are only a few miles from the White Oak site.

But McLean downplayed those concerns. “I have found that the likely impact on other hospitals of the proposed project would not constitute a basis, in and of itself, for denial of the project,” she wrote.

Washington Adventist Hospital has sought to relocate because officials have said there is not enough room for expansion at its current location. The only route onto the Takoma Park campus is a narrow, two-lane road that offers little space for cars and emergency vehicles, officials have said.

Lena H. Sun is a national reporter for The Washington Post, focusing on health.
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