As the population of Howard County has grown, so have the health care resources available to residents.

Over the past decade, Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest health maintenance organization, opened a 17,500-square-foot center in Columbia Gateway Park, and Howard County General Hospital tripled the size of its emergency department and upgraded the obstetrics and neonatal intensive care units through a $34 million expansion. Also, Sheppard Pratt at Ellicott City opened as a private hospital specializing in mental health programs for children and adults.

In 2010, Kennedy Krieger Institute opened an outpatient clinic in Columbia to provide pediatric behavioral psychology services, while a 10-bed inpatient Gilchrist hospice facility is slated to open in 2011 in Columbia.

And this represents only a portion of the facilities and services available in Howard County.


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HOWARD COUNTY GENERAL HOSPITAL

Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) — a not-for-profit facility in Columbia — has served the community since 1973. A member of Johns Hopkins Medicine, it boasts a professional staff of more than 800 physicians and allied health professionals representing more than 70 medical specialties and sub-specialties.

The hospital is in the midst of a new expansion plan that includes a five-level patient pavilion with three new inpatient units and private rooms, all featuring the latest technology to advance patient care. Also included in the expansion are a new lobby entrance and outpatient services area as well as increased space for support departments.

Elsewhere in the hospital, professionals continue to provide the highest level of care for patients.

> Last fiscal year, 3,455 babies were born at HCGH.

> Of the 12,640 surgeries performed at the hospital, 8,969 were done on an outpatient basis at the hospital’s Center for Ambulatory Surgery for procedures that are minimally invasive, result in less discomfort and require less recovery time.

> The hospital’s emergency department provides comprehensive emergency and urgent care around the clock in a 36-bed adult care unit, with a separate 12-bed pediatric unit for patients 16 and younger.

> The hospital’s Behavioral Emergency Unit treats patients in mental health crisis. This separate secure 10-bed unit, located adjacent to the Emergency Department, enhances the hospital’s ability to respond to the mental health needs of the community. The hospital also provides a 20-bed inpatient psychiatric unit.

> Radiation oncology services are offered to cancer patients at the Central Maryland Oncology Center adjacent to the hospital campus.

> The hospital also offers an array of health-related classes. Some of these include Infant Massage, Self-Defense for Young Women, Diabetes Screening, Freedom From Smoking, Baby Signing, Positive Parenting, Babysitting Essentials, CPR, Topic of Cancer and much more. Call 410-740-7890, or visit www.hcgh.org.

HOWARD COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT

The Howard County Health Department, which delivers state and federally funded services, conducts clinics for immunization, child health, prenatal care and family planning at its Ellicott City office and sites in Columbia and Laurel. Some services, such as venereal disease screening and treatment programs, are free and available to any local resident. For other services, preference is given to low-income residents in need of medical assistance. Fees are based on the ability to pay. The health department also participates in a program to screen for breast and cervical cancer in women 50 and older with no medical insurance, or whose insurance fails to cover yearly mammograms. Additional services for older residents include counseling and home visits available through the Office onAging.

For more information on available services and locations, call 410-313-6300 or visit www.co.ho.md.us/Health/HealthMain/Health_HomePage.htm.

FACILITIES

A number of health- and wellness-related businesses and organizations call Howard County home including:

The Tai Sophia Institute (410-888-9048) The North Laurel center offers outpatient care, graduate certificates and master’s degree programs in acupuncture, herbal medicine, transformative leadership and health and wellness coaching, as well as classes in tai chi, feng shui, yoga and more.