Yesterday, I read an article in The Gazette regarding the sale of Maryland's last for-profit hospital to MedStar Health System. There never were many for-profit hospitals in Maryland. When I arrived in Maryland 23 years ago to begin my health care career here, there were only two for-profit hospitals and one of them closed many years ago. That left only Southern Maryland Hospital Center. The hospital was founded 35 years ago by Dr. Chiaramonte and most recently run by his son, Michael. I have known Michael for a number of years and he has done an admirable job of continuing to run his for-profit hospital in a rate-regulated state. A formidable challenge to say the least. In the article, Michael is quoted on the sale saying, "as a result of ongoing federal reforms, hospitals are being required to take more risks and act almost like insurance companies. Obamacare is helpful in seeing that more people are insured but less helpful in seeing standalone hospitals remain solvent."
Southern Maryland is the seventh hospital in Maryland that has been acquired by MedStar and tenth overall. The other three are in Washington DC. Even the Secretary of Health for Maryland thinks that the trend to affiliate, merge or be acquired is a good one. Secretary Sharfstein is quoted in the article, saying "It's a good trend even if it just involves information sharing. Integration can bring a lot of value to patients because it makes it easier to get their data from one system to another.”
Throughout Maryland the activity continues to grow related to affiliations. You can almost count on two hands the number of independent hospitals and health systems that remain. At this point in time, WMHS is still a standalone health system.