Residents Denied Improved Access to Emergency Medical Services - Adventist HealthCare

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News Release

Media Contact: Tom Grant

Published on September 15, 2004

Press Release

Residents Denied Improved Access to Emergency Medical Services

Rockville, MD - Residents in upper Montgomery County were denied improved access to emergency medical services as a result of a decision today by the Maryland Health Care Commission.

The Commission voted to deny Shady Grove Adventist Hospital's request to develop a satellite emergency department in Germantown to improve access to emergency medical care for the rapidly growing region that includes upper Montgomery County communities such as Germantown and Damascus.

"We have a responsibility to meet the health care needs of our community which is experiencing rapid population growth and severe traffic congestion," said Deborah A. Yancer, President of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. "We developed this project to address the crisis that is occurring in our community in terms of access to emergency medical care."

Yancer noted that Shady Grove Adventist Hospital's emergency department, the only one between Rockville and Frederick, treated more than 85,000 patients in 2003, up from 69,931 in 2000. The hospital's emergency department volume is the second highest in Maryland and is three times the national average for a hospital with its licensed bed capacity (281 beds).

In addition, traffic congestion in the region served by the hospital continues to deteriorate.

According to the State Highway Administration, traffic has increased dramatically in the Upcounty area over the past decade-and will only continue to increase as these communities continue to grow. Since 1994, average daily traffic volume on I-270 at the Frederick County line has increased 83 percent. Traffic volume on MD 118 at Clopper Road has increased 140 percent in the same time period.

"An emergency department in Germantown would shave precious minutes off the travel time for emergency care," said Yancer. "In a health crisis, every minute counts."

"We're especially disappointed because the Commission did not visit the proposed site for this facility and rejected our request for a public hearing," said Yancer.

Yancer noted that nearly 10,000 households in upper Montgomery County have expressed support for the satellite emergency department.

"The Commission opposed the facility in part because of the five inpatient beds attached to the satellite emergency department. Yet, according to Maryland law, we had to include the inpatient beds to make the project viable. We're caught in a ‘catch-22' of regulations that need revising," she added.

The proposed satellite emergency department would be staffed by board-certified emergency physicians and would offer 24-hour emergency care in the heart of the Upcounty community, on MD 118 across from the Germantown Town Center. It would be equipped with the full range of advanced diagnostic and life support equipment, offering the same level of services as the emergency department at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.

Other states across the country permit satellite emergency departments as a way to extend access to care. Three such facilities exist in northern Virginia.

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital offers a full range of health care services for the community, including pediatrics, maternity care, cardiology, cancer treatment, inpatient/outpatient surgery and a host of programs dedicated to improving health and preventing illness. The hospital is part of Adventist HealthCare, a non-profit network of health care providers that includes hospitals, home health agencies, nursing centers and other health care services.

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