Holy Cross Develops Proposal To Build Hospital in Germantown

By Lori Aratani
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring announced plans yesterday to build a 100-bed hospital in Germantown, a growing part of Montgomery County that has limited access to medical services.

"We believe there's still a lot of unmet needs in the community,'' said Kevin J. Sexton, president and chief executive of Holy Cross, the county's largest hospital. Sexton cited studies showing that about 28 percent of the hospital's patients live in the northern and western portions of the county but drive to Silver Spring for services.

The plan is still in the early stages: Holy Cross officials have filed a letter of intent with the Maryland Health Care Commission, which will decide whether the plan can move forward. Hospital officials say they hope to open the facility by 2012, but details such as cost and the types of services still must be worked out. They also plan to open a clinic for obstetrics and gynecology in Germantown.

Sexton said yesterday that he envisions "a full-service hospital that would start modestly but have room to grow.'' Plans call for the hospital to occupy about 23 of the 50 acres in the business park next to the Germantown campus of Montgomery College, about 30 miles north of the District between Route 355 and Interstate 270.

It is the sort of partnership more common to four-year universities than community colleges, officials said. "This is a benefit not just to the college, but to the county and the state," said Hercules Pinkney, vice president and provost of the Germantown campus. "We're thrilled about the possibilities.''

The plan won praise from members of the Montgomery County Council.

"Anything that increases access to health care in the northern portion of Montgomery County is huge," said Council President Mike Knapp, a Democrat who represents the area. "It's long overdue."

There are no full-service hospitals in the county's northern communities.

Knapp said he knew that Montgomery College officials had been negotiating for the past year to bring a medical facility to the Germantown campus, but it was not until this weekend that he was told it was Holy Cross.

Council member George Leventhal (D-At Large), who chairs the council's health and human services committee, was also supportive. "The more access to health care we have, the better," he said.

Acknowledging the shortage of medical services in northern Montgomery County, Adventist HealthCare two years ago opened the Shady Grove Adventist Emergency Center in Germantown. It is the only emergency center in the 30 miles between Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville and Frederick Memorial Hospital. Thomas Grant, a spokesman for Adventist HealthCare, said there are plans to add services in Clarksburg.

"Expanded health care access is also at the heart of our plans to relocate Washington Adventist Hospital to the White Oak/Calverton area, while retaining services at our Takoma Park campus," he said. "We look forward to seeing Holy Cross's plans."

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