Support Your Local Hospital!
Harford Business Ledger: September 2007
I will admit my lack of objectivity on this issue at the outset. This article is about our not-for-profit community hospitals, Upper Chesapeake Medical Center (UCMC) and Harford Memorial Hospital (HMH), and their parent company, Upper Chesapeake Health (UCH); I serve on UCH's Board of Directors.
We are blessed in Harford County to have what I believe to be the finest community hospitals in the region.
The mere fact only two new hospitals have been built in Maryland in the last 25 years, and that one of them is UCMC, speaks volumes to the state-of-the-art systems and equipment available at that facility. All patient information and treatment protocols are computerized. An internal pharmacy is capable of delivering drugs to floors at nurses' stations through the use of pneumatic tubes installed throughout the hospital. The recent addition of a 64-slice CT scanner gives cardiac specialists the ability to view the heart multi-dimensionally and to detect blockages and other difficulties non-invasively.
In Havre de Grace, Harford Memorial Hospital maintains its long history of meeting the growing health care needs of residents on both sides of the Susquehanna. Important programs such as its Upper Chesapeake Behavioral Health Services, Orthopedic Joint Center, Bariatric Surgery Program and Sleep Disorder Center provide neighbors specialized services and access to physicians with a home town touch. Diagnostic testing of pulmonary functions help physicians quickly diagnose and manage chronic diseases such as COPD. Outpatient rehabilitation assists patients with physical and occupational therapies that speed their return to activities of daily living.
These facilities and technologies continue to attract top-notch physicians and medical professionals causing quality and performance standards to skyrocket. UCMC recently received several prestigious awards, including one from HealthGrades, the hospital industry's equivalent of J.D. Power & Associates. This national organization named Upper Chesapeake Medical Center as a Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence, putting it in the top 5% of all hospitals in the United States. Five hospitals in Maryland were recently recognized with the coveted Delmarva Foundation Quality Award -- and HMH and UCMC were among them!
The complaint most often heard about hospitals is that "the wait is too long in emergency departments." The public needs to understand that Emergency Department overcrowding is a national trend resulting from shortages in primary care physicians, causing non-emergency patients to present to the Emergency Department. Overworked primary care physician practices are closed at night and on weekends, leaving hospital Emergency Departments as the only option. Also, it is a fact that state approval of the construction of UCMC was opposed by "Beltway Hospitals" seeking to protect their market share by limiting competition. They were partially successful: as a result, the "Certificate of Need" that allowed UCMC to be built also mandated that it be at a size that proved too small to adequately meet the needs of the community. I don't mind competition in business, but I think it does not belong in the not-for-profit delivery of health care, especially when the result is inadequate serving of our community's medical needs!
In UCMC's initial capital building campaign (1998), the Upper Chesapeake Foundation raised over $13 million from the community through generous donors in order to acquire absolutely the finest equipment and technology available. Now, the hospital is engaged in significant expansion projects in its continuing effort to catch up with increasing demands. The community has already generously donated over $10 million in this continued striving for unparalleled excellence. The current project will add 14 additional treatment rooms in the Emergency Department, four new operating rooms and 29 new inpatient beds; another project underway is the construction of a third medical office building and a 450-space parking structure on the increasingly impressive campus.
As I stated at the outset, we are truly fortunate to have such top notch community hospitals. The only limitations to Upper Chesapeake Health are those brought about by external influences. I urge you to patronize and support this wonderful institution in any way you can!