Maryland Governor Signs Bill That Recognizes Vital Services Provided by Germantown Emergency Center
Free-Standing Center, along with Planned Clarksburg Community Hospital, Plays an Important Role in Expanding Health Care Access for Upper Montgomery County
Rockville, Md. - Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley today signed legislation that directs the state to set reimbursement rates for freestanding emergency facilities in Maryland, including the Shady Grove Adventist Germantown Emergency Center, to help cover important staffing and equipment costs.
This new law addresses an issue remaining after earlier legislation enabled the establishment of the Shady Grove Adventist Germantown Emergency Center and the new Queen Anne's County Emergency Center (set to open in October). The new legislation brings these facilities under the authority of the Health Services Cost Review Commission, making them available for Medicare and Medicaid fee-for-services reimbursement. It also enables Medicaid reimbursement to be available for the Bowie Health Center in Prince George's County, a similar facility.
"We want to thank the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission and the Maryland Health Care Commission for working with the governor, the legislature and health-care providers to come up with a solution that helps ensure and maintain expanded access to care," said William G. "Bill" Robertson, President and CEO of Adventist HealthCare. "It is through collaboration like this that we can work to strengthen the state's health-care network for all Marylanders."
The legislation, passed by the Maryland General Assembly this April, requires freestanding emergency centers to be "rate-regulated" by the state, which sets how Medicare and other insurers reimburse for a specific treatment for hospital-based services. The bill also places a moratorium on any new freestanding medical facilities until 2015, when a formal Certificate of Need (CON) process will be implemented for consideration of new facilities of this kind.
The Germantown Emergency Center is an integral part of Adventist HealthCare's longstanding commitment to expand access to health care for residents in upper Montgomery County. This commitment began with the opening of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in 1979 and continued with the opening in 2006 of the Germantown Emergency Center, a facility that has drawn national attention. In 2008, Adventist HealthCare opened a primary care clinic for the uninsured and a prenatal center for uninsured women, both in Germantown.
Freestanding emergency departments are staffed by physicians and nurses and are fully equipped to handle medical emergencies and accept patients by ambulance just like a hospital emergency room. The facilities are administratively and clinically linked into a hospital and licensed by the state.
The Shady Grove Adventist Germantown Emergency Center has saved lives and improved access to emergency medical care for upper Montgomery County residents. The facility, which is equipped to handle the full range of emergency medicine needs, has also reduced patient volume at the main Shady Grove Adventist Hospital Emergency Department, once the busiest in Maryland.
"In 2009, the Germantown Emergency Center provided vital emergency medical care to more than 36,000 patients," said Dr. Brett Gamma, Medical Director of the Germantown Emergency Center and Vice Chair of Emergency Services at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. "The skilled care of our team regularly achieves patient satisfaction scores above the 90th percentile. The high volumes of satisfied patients at the Germantown Emergency Center demonstrate how the facility has successfully increased access to health care for the upcounty region."
The Germantown Emergency Center has also reduced out-of-service times for ambulances in the upcounty community by 40 percent.
"The Germantown Emergency Center has effectively, and in a cost-efficient manner, improved access to emergency medical care for residents in upper Montgomery County," wrote Richard Bowers, Fire Chief of Montgomery County Fire/Rescue Services, to the state legislature urging approval of the legislation. "I appreciate Adventist HealthCare's efforts as a community-focused, collaborative organization dedicated to meeting the health care needs of Montgomery County residents."
To complement the existing health care services in upper Montgomery County and to best serve future health-care needs in the region, Adventist HealthCare has also proposed the development of the Clarksburg Community Hospital and Medical Campus, currently under review by the Maryland Health Care Commission.
The hospital and medical campus, which has all major environmental and land-use approvals from Montgomery County, will include physician offices, a nursing and rehabilitation center for the county's aging population, a day care center to meet the needs of young families and a primary care clinic for the underserved communities. The hospital and medical campus would serve a large and growing region including Germantown, up through Damascus, Clarksburg and communities in southern Frederick County.
"The Clarksburg proposal, combined with the continued operation of the Germantown Emergency Center, provides a well-coordinated array of services for our upcounty constituents," wrote 11 state legislators, who represent upper Montgomery County, in a letter to the state Health Care Commission.
These same legislators, plus many others from across the state, were strong supporters of the emergency center legislation.
"We would like to thank all of the elected officials who helped with this legislation and who have been so supportive of the Germantown Emergency Center," said Robert Jepson, Vice President of Government Relations & Public Policy for Adventist HealthCare. "In particular, we want to acknowledge the leadership of the bill's primary sponsors during this legislative session, Maryland State Senators Rob Garagiola (D-Dist. 15) and Nancy King (D-Dist. 39), and Delegate Kirill Reznik (D-Dist. 39), for shepherding this important piece of legislation through the General Assembly."
Adventist HealthCare, an integrated, health-care delivery organization based in Rockville, Maryland, is one of the largest employers in the state of Maryland. The mission of Adventist HealthCare is to demonstrate God's care by improving the health of people and communities through a ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing. Adventist HealthCare includes Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Shady Grove Adventist Germantown Emergency Center, Washington Adventist Hospital, Adventist Behavioral Health, Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland, Adventist Senior Living Services, Adventist Home Health Services and the Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children.