Shady Grove Adventist Hospital will celebrate its 20th anniversary next month. During two decades of serving greater Montgomery County, the hospital has established an excellent reputation among the community it serves, state and federal officials and the medical profession.

The hospital's growth has been steady, from caring for a handful of patients in late 1979 to treating more than 140,000 patients last year. It has an outstanding perinatology program for high-risk mothers, a state-of-the-art unit for critically ill infants, an emergency department that treats more than 60,000 patients a year and a program to provide free breast-cancer screenings for uninsured or underinsured women.

The hospital provides employment to some 1,700 citizens. Its Prevention and Wellness division offers more than 100 health classes, and many of its programs are free.

But now the hospital finds itself in the middle of a media frenzy [Metro, Nov. 17 and 21], fueled in part by two regulatory bodies, both of which lately have been under pressure from the federal government relating to their oversight performance. An overreaction may have occurred in the Shady Grove case.

Shady Grove has fewer patient falls than is average among Maryland hospitals, the hospital is staffed for nursing care at a level comparable to that of other Maryland hospitals and its quality of care rated 93 percent during a recent patient survey.

Shady Grove should be allowed to continue to provide excellent service.



The writer, a Democrat, is a Maryland state senator representing District 17.