Brook Lane Health Services breaks ground for new Hospital Wing for children
From left, Dr. David Gonzalez, The Rev. Ray Geigley, Tamara Huff, CEO R. Lynn Rushing and Foundation Chair Suzanne Hayes break through the hard ground at the groundbreaking ceremony held Friday for the new Hospital Wing For Children at Brook Lane. (Yvette May / Staff Photographer / June 14, 2013)
The new wing is a 14-bed expansion to the institution’s inpatient psychiatric hospital, which currently has 43 beds, Brook Lane Chief Executive Officer R. Lynn Rushing said.
“We have been so frustrated with having to turn patients away,” Rushing said. “It’s exciting to finally get to this point that we can add these beds and, hopefully, be able to better serve the community than what we’ve been able to do for the last couple years.”
The hospital is expected to have turned away more than 1,100 patients by the end of June for the past year, including more than 600 children, because it has been booked to capacity, Rushing said.
The new wing, which will be for children, will be attached to the current wing that has six beds for children. The current wing will still primarily be for children and adolescents, but it will become a “flex” unit for patients of all ages, Rushing said.
“During the summer, we normally see the demand for child and adolescent (patients) back off, but adults do not,” he said. “(The flex unit) would give us the ability during the summer months to be able to take more adults, but during the fall, winter, and spring months, it’s normally child and adolescent that’s more in demand.”
In the new wing, there will be 14 individual rooms for the children, a large room for group activities and offices for therapists. The project cost $6 million, which is coming partially from a state grant, Rushing said.
In addition to the six beds for children, there are currently 17 beds for adolescents and 20 beds for adults. With an average hospital stay about seven days, Rushing said that the new wing will be able to admit around 700 children in a year.
The Rev. Geigley, chairman of the Brook Lane board, said at the ceremony that there still will be patients who have to be turned away after the wing is built, but he was grateful they were “able to do at least this much.”
“The past several years we board members have been increasingly haunted by the children and adolescents we’ve had to turn away, because there simply is no room,” he said. “The question of what happened to these children that are turned away haunts all of us.”
Local and state officials attended the ceremony as well as Julianna Albowicz, local representative of Maryland U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and Diana Modelski, representative of U.S. Rep. John Delaney, who represents the 6th Congressional District.
Washington County Commissioner John Barr described Brook Lane as a “hidden treasure and a real asset” in the county.
“The alternative of not having space here at Brook Lane is probably the Meritus emergency room, and I think we all realize the emergency room is backed up, and many times you sit there for hours,” he said. “The other alternative is relocation to facilities in the Baltimore-Washington area which means a lot of travel, a lot of expense for local families, and it means separation for local families.”
Maryland State Sen. Ron Young, who also attended the ceremony, said afterward that he hopes the hospital expands again eventually.
“The 14 new beds will certainly help, but even with that, they’ll be turning away patients,” he said. “I hope they can expand again as soon as possible because their services are really needed.”