"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Setting the Record Straight on Tearing Down Hospitals

In yesterday's local newspaper, there was a letter to the editor taking the County Government and the Board of Education to task for tearing down the former Sacred Heart Hospital.  The feeling is that the building is a perfectly good building and should be used for economic development purposes or a Veteran's Hospital.  It is important for the letter writer to know that there had been numerous conversations with the Federal Government on the reuse of both Memorial Hospital and then Sacred Heart as potential sites for VA hospitals.  The answer had been an emphatic "NO" from the VA Administration; even Senator Mikulski was told, "NO."  The VA is building new hospitals for veterans, fewer than before the economic downturn, but not re-deploying ones that have been previously used as hospitals.  These former hospitals require tens--if not hundreds--of million dollars to renovate and bring up to code; and it is important to note that WMHS built a new hospital for a very good reason. 

Which brings me to the use of the hospital for economic development purposes.  Prior to trading Sacred Heart Hospital for land adjacent to our Willowbrook campus, we engaged a developer to assess the campus for uses beyond a hospital.  After a lengthy tour and subsequent assessment of the entire campus, we were informed that the only use would be for another hospital and that would require tens--if not hundreds--of million of dollars in renovation costs.  It would be far less expensive to tear down the buildings and build whatever one may desire on that land than to attempt to retrofit the existing buildings for other purposes.   So, the bottom line is that it may seem like a good idea to those who don't have all of the facts, but what the Board of Education and the County are embarking on is the right way to go.

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